January 4th is National Spaghetti Day, but mark your calendar to celebrate all of the pasta holidays below.
Trivia: The word “spaghetti” derives from the Italian word “spago,” which means “twine” or “string.”
The name for a single spaghetti noodle is “spaghetto” (it’s the singular form of the plural “spaghetti” ).
Other beloved Italian foods share this same grammatical distinction — one cannoli is actually a “cannolo,” and it’s a single cheese-filled “raviolo” or “panino” sandwich.
As you’ll discover in our History Of Pasta, the beloved noodles are not an Italian invention.
Pasta dough originated in China, in the form of dumplings and thin noodles (i.e., the thin pasta that is called linguine in Italy).
It’s believed that Arab traders introduced pasta to Sicily sometime in the eighth or ninth centuries.
Even pasta sauce isn’t originally Italian: Tomatoes were brought to Europe in the 16th century by explorers from the New World, where the tomato originated. The Mayas, Aztecs, and other Central American peoples made a variety of sauces (“salsas”) with tomatoes.
The first tomato sauce recipe appeared in a 1692 Italian cookbook, “The Modern Steward, or The Art of Preparing Banquets Well,” by Chef Antonio Latini. You can buy an English translation on Amazon.
More than 300 years later, spaghetti with tomato sauce is a perennially popular dish in Italy and the U.S. [source].
Italy is still the country with the highest consumption of pasta, but more than half (62%) of Italian pasta production ends up abroad. The top importing countries, in order, are Germany, the U.S. France, the U.K., and Japan.
The fastest-growing markets are China, Canada, Spain, and Saudi Arabia.
In terms of pasta consumption per capita, Italy (23.5 kg per capita), Tunisia (17 kg), Venezuela (15 kg), Greece (12 kg), Chile (9.4 kg), the U.S. (8.8 kg), Argentina (8.7 kg), and Turkey (8.7 kg) [source]. Note that not every country makes Italian-style pasta dishes.
> The history of spaghetti.
> The different types of pasta: a glossary.
A YEAR OF PASTA HOLIDAYS
Ready, set, get your forks!
January 4th: National Spaghetti Day
February 7th: National Fettuccine Alfredo Day
February 13th: National Tortellini Day
March: National Noodle Month
March 20th: National Ravioli Day
April 6th: National Carbonara Day
July 7th: National Macaroni Day
July 14th: National Mac and Cheese Day
July 29th: National Lasagna Day
October: National Pasta Month
October 17th: National Pasta Day
October 25th: World Pasta Day
The 29th of every month: Gnocchi Day (“Ñoquis del 29” [loosely, “Gnocchi on the 29th”] in Argentina)
October 27th: National Parmigiano Reggiano Day, without which a dish of spaghetti and much other pasta, would be bereft.
And how could we leave out:
*Marinara sauce (marinara is Italian for sailor) is a tomato sauce made with tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and onions. Variations can include capers, olives, spices, and a dash of wine.
 One of our favorites: spaghetti with a no-cook tomato sauce made with olive oil and crushed canned tomatoes. Here’s the recipe (photo © DeLallo).
 Spaghetti and meatballs, one of the most popular spaghetti dish (photo © Robyn Mac | iStock).
 Spaghetti Bolognese, the most popular spaghetti dish, is spaghetti in marinara* sauce. It originated in Imola, a northern Italian city west of Bologna sometime in the late 1800s, when the first reference to the dish’s ragu sauce appears in print (photo © Pillsbury).