5 Ways to Celebrate National Pasta Day!

1) Pasta Origins

The first two things that come to mind when most people think of pasta are spaghetti and Italians. But there are many different types of pasta, from acini to ziti. What’s more, pasta’s origins don’t lie in Italy.

Pasta has its origins in China where it was allegedly “discovered” for Europeans by Marco Polo. Pasta quickly gained popularity and started evolving into different sizes and shapes, some like cups to hold sauce, some meant to be layered—but all of them delicious.

In Italy, the northern regions have become famous for their white sauces, while the southern regions have gained notoriety for their amazing red sauces. But, it seems like every part of Italy has created its own specialty pasta. Here is a map!

Pasta has been the inspiration for fabulous dishes from all around the world—from spaghetti-and-meatballs to spätzle to couscous—hasn’t just inspired food. It has also been incorporated into technical scientific terms, protests and religions, even books and movies. It’s safe to say that pasta has made a big impact on the world.



2) Spaghettification

Spaghettification sounds like a made-up word, something your science teacher would say in class to make sure you were listening. But, in fact, it is a technical term used by scientists to describe what happens to matter when it falls into a black hole.
Let’s say, for example, that an astronaut was to free-fall into a black hole. The pull of gravity on his or her feet would be greater than the pull on his or her head. This effect of tidal forces, or gravitational pull, would cause the astronaut to be stretched like bubble gum, longer and longer, getting thinner in the middle with every passing minute. Eventually, the astronaut would look like a long string, similar to spaghetti.

The term originated in A Brief History of Time, a book written by celebrated astrophysicist Steven Hawking. Listen to another celebrated astrophysicist perfectly explain the concept here.



3) Pastafarianism

In 2005, the Kansas State Board of Education voted to infuse the state’s science curriculum with alternative theories to evolution.

In protest to the decision, Bobby Henderson wrote a public letter to the board, in which he created a parody religion called Pastafarianism. The religion’s central deity, the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM), resembled a giant helping of spaghetti and meatballs. Henderson argued, in jest, that it was the FSM who created the universe, and He who manipulated scientific experiments with his “noodly” appendage, rendering science useless.

Touched by His Noodly Appendage, the parody of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam has become an iconic image of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Illustration by Niklas Jansson, courtesy Wikimedia. Public domain

Henderson’s parody religion took off in some online communities as a symbol of the fight against creationism, spawning further writings such as The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Others added to his work, authoring prayers, as well as The Loose Canon, and in a sense creating a crowdsourced religion. (It should be noted that a part of Henderson’s humor includes some crude language, please keep that in mind of you decide to visit the website).

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a place where fellow Pastafarians post FSM-related creations of their own.



4) Cloudy, with a Chance of Meatballs

Ever heard that song that goes “If all the raindrops were lemon-drops and gum-drops, oh what a rain that would be“?
Well, the people of the mythical town of Chewandswallow really could enjoy dessert-like rain like that, and they could also have spaghetti twisters and salt-and-pepper winds! Originally a children’s book written by Judi Barrett, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is also a movie series, and a YouTube series.
The film introduces characters like Flint Lockwood, an amateur inventor, whose mechanical device creates the food weather, on what was before a spaghetti-tornado-free island. His experiment at geoengineering (intentional manipulation of the earth to change its natural systems) highlights the potential perils of projects such as artificial volcanoes, mirrors in space, or pumping chemicals into the atmosphere to avert global warming.



5) Orthopteran Orzo

Pasta doesn’t have to pair with traditional partners like marinara sauce! Chrip up your protein with this recipe from The Bug Chef!

Recipe courtesy David George Gordon, the Bug Chef, illustration by Mary Crooks, National Geographic

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