The term “noodles” is not quite the same as “pasta.” Noodles can be made from a variety of grains and are generally long and thin, but only pasta comes from durum wheat and can be many shapes.
Although you may only know a handful of pasta shapes, the dough which pasta comes from is so versatile that there are at least 600.
Noodle dishes have traced back to ancient China, but these were rice or millet-based, and hence unlikely to be the predecessor of durum-based pasta known throughout the Mediterranean.
“Pasta” translates to “paste” or “dough,” which is what the individual shapes are cut from.
Thomas Jefferson fell in love with pasta, all of which he called “macaroni,” during a trip to Naples, and thereafter imported much of it to the US for himself and friends. He did much to popularize it in the US, and the country’s first pasta factory later opened in his hometown of Philadelphia.
Italy is both the world’s largest pasta exporter and per capita consumer.
Spaghetti was the topic of the most famous April Fool’s Day Joke in broadcast history. The 2.5-minute hoax BBC broadcast showed a Swiss family plucking spaghetti off the family “spaghetti tree” and reported that it was a good harvest after a mild winter and with the “spaghetti weevil” gone. An uncommon dish in England at the time, many viewers believed this was indeed how spaghetti was produced.