Pasta is a universal dish that can be prepared in limitless ways. Each country has its own favorite method of preparing said pasta, unique to that country, its tastes, and local ingredients. The pasta itself is a pretty basic item, made from either eggs and flour or water and flour. It can be cut and shaped in any way that one desires, and needs only to dry. How does such a bland ingredient become so popular around the world? Well, it’s the perfect base for a dish. It’s plain enough that it can be manipulated in many possible ways to create totally different meals. From manicotti in Italy, to noodle salad in Thailand, to orzo in Greece, there is no end to the creativity. Aside from its versatility, pasta is inexpensive and widely available. No one can quite pinpoint the origination of the food, but it is an ancient ingredient. You may automatically assume Italy invented pasta, but its roots can be found in Asia and the Middle East, as well. Though the world may be varied in nearly every way, we can all come together over a bowl of pasta. In celebration of World Pasta Day, here are some recipes, traditions, and legends surrounding pasta in these various countries. Enjoy your visit around the world from the comfort of your own kitchen.
Fideua is a Spanish pasta very similar to another Spanish dish called paella, except fideua uses pasta instead of rice. The legend is that a cook ran out of rice one day and substituted pasta for the rice. Today, it is its own dish made of pasta, shellfish and fish, as Spain is a coastal country. Find a fideaua recipe here.
In Vietnam, a popular dish is bun thit nuong. It is particularly good in the summer, as it is a light and fresh pasta dish. It includes cold rice vermicelli noodles, fresh vegetables, pork, and a nuoc cham sauce. Try it for yourself here!
The people of Afghanistan will steam their pasta, and then stuff it with scallion filling, ground beef, or lamb. On top, they pour a ground meat sauce and a garlic yogurt sauce. They call this dish aushak or mantoo (depending on what it’s stuffed with), or Afghan dumplings. Check out a recipe you can try here.
Kushari is known as the national dish for Egypt. Originally, it was a food of the poor folk because it is simple and inexpensive, and also full of protein. However, today everyone enjoys this pasta dish. If you like some kick in your pasta, try out this recipe.
Indian people will partake kheer during festivals or religious celebrations, or it is a popular dessert after lunch or dinner. It is a creamy pudding, made with rice vermicelli noodles or toasted rice. It contains the noodles, milk, sugar, and cardamon for sweetening. You can also add raisins or nuts to the pudding, as well. Try it for yourself.
This country also enjoys stuffing their pasta. They use pelmeni noodles (similar to ravioli) and fill them with minced meat or mushrooms. The pasta is very thin, but the dish is full of flavor. The Polish have a relative of this pasta called pierogi, but they stuff theirs with potatoes. Give this recipe a try.
You cannot visit the Philippines without tasting their famous dish, pancit. It is made with thin rice noodles, vegetables and meat. The noodles are served with the meat and vegetables, covered in sauce, and garnished with lemon or lime juice. Try pancit at home.
Singapore shares its noodle dish with Malaysia. They enjoy a curry laska, or spicy noodle soup. The broth is based with coconut milk, and can be served with various toppings such as bean sprouts, hard boiled eggs, cilantro, limes, scallions, mint, or fried shallots. Feel free to experiment and make this dish your own. Check out this recipe.
Kugel is a traditional dish for the Jewish people living in Germany. Originally made with bread, but later substituted for egg noodles. It is known as a sweet noodle casserole or pudding, but it could be made with potatoes and served as a side dish. Kugel is a simple dish, but not for vegans as it is full of sour cream, cottage cheese and butter. Make your own kugel.
Mee krob is Thai for “fried noodles.” A cook will fry the rice noodles until crispy, and then cover them with a sweet and sour sauce. The recipe includes pork, tofu, shrimp, bean sprouts and chili peppers. Here is a mee krob recipe you can make.
A famous dish whether you eat it in Italy or not, spaghetti carbonara is a classic. Rumor has it that it originated during World War II. American soldiers were hungry for bacon and eggs, and the Italians simply added pasta and cheese to the dish. Give it a try!
Wat tan hor is also known as kong foo chow in Southern China. It is made with chow fun noodles, which are flat and wide. This dish is best made with fresh noodles, but if you use dried, soak the noodles for fifteen minutes beforehand. The noodles will be tossed with meat, shallots, and Asian greens, and then covered with egg gravy. Check out this recipe.
Make Your Own Pasta
You can create your own pasta on this World Pasta Day using this tutorial. With flour, eggs, salt, and olive oil, you will be on your way to fresh pasta. You will need a pasta machine, though. This tutorial is helpful because it will tell you how to create various types of pasta shapes and styles. She even gives you tips on coloring the pasta using spinach, tomatoes, herbs or saffron.