Everyone loves spaghetti!
Aside from being flavorful and fulfilling, it always conjures up warm images of a convivial meal enjoyed with family and friends.
And what better occasion to celebrate this culinary classic than by paying homage to a little-known holiday…National Spaghetti Day, which occurs annually on January 4th.
Obviously, however, not all spaghettis are created equally.
While spaghetti can be a wholesome meal if you prepare it correctly, it can also become a dangerous hodgepodge of unhealthful ingredients if you are not careful.
We will steer you in the right direction with a delicious whole food, plant-based recipe a bit later.
But for now, let’s take a look at the history of spaghetti and review some fun facts.
A History of Spaghetti (and Pasta)
Nowadays, we tend to associate spaghetti (and pasta in general) with Italy, but pasta has been around much longer than most people think.
Although the first record of pasta came from Sicily in 1154, foods similar to pasta have been prepared and consumed since the 1st century AD.
But it is Italy, indeed, that has undoubtedly played the biggest role in pasta’s evolution, expanding the dish to incorporate different shapes and sizes of noodles, and perfecting various recipes.
And it was also the Italians who brought this classic entrée into the United States, where spaghetti first started appearing on restaurant menus around the end of the 19th century.
Here are some of my favorite ‘fun facts’ about the pasta of the hour–spaghetti.
- Spaghetti is the plural form of the Italian word spaghetto, which is a diminutive of spago, meaning ‘thin string’ or ‘twine.’
- There are over 310 specific types of pasta, known by over 1300 names.
- The earliest reference to a pasta maker was in Greek mythology when the God Vulcan invented a device that made strings of dough.
- The first US pasta maker’s shop was opened by French immigrant Mr. Zerega in 1848. His great-grandchildren continue to produce pasta today.
- Not surprisingly, the Italians eat the greatest amount of pasta worldwide. Venezuelans and Tunisians are next.
- Pasta had been eaten for thousands of years before anyone started adding tomato sauce. This is because tomatoes themselves were only introduced in Europe (by Spanish explorer Cortez) in 1519.
How Healthful Is Spaghetti?
Does spaghetti have a place in a whole food, plant-based diet?
The answer, fortunately, is a resounding YES.
However, the ‘health-quotient’ of spaghetti depends on how you prepare it.
If you douse it in heavy oil or garnish it with meat products, it becomes a less healthful option.
But spaghetti (made basically with whole wheat and water) topped with yummy vegetables can be an excellent meal choice.
The pasta itself is a great source of intact carbohydrates, fueling your body with energy that is released slowly over time.
And it is important to remember that vegetables, which are traditionally placed on top of spaghetti, can also be used to color and flavor it – e.g. tomatoes make a red pasta, pumpkin transform it into orange and spinach makes it green.
In addition, you can think outside the box and make ‘spaghetti’ from the vegetables themselves. Options include spaghetti squash, zucchini spaghetti or palm heart spaghetti.
How Can You Celebrate Spaghetti Day?
So…what can you do to enjoy Spaghetti Day? Give one of these ideas a try:
- Spaghetti With Friends and Family: Show off your cooking skills by throwing your own personal pasta party. Invite loved ones over for a fun Italian-style meal.
- Visit an Italian Restaurant: Try locating an authentic Italian restaurant in your area and order some spaghetti off the menu.
- Use the Hashtag #NationalSpaghettiDay: Whether you are cooking your own or dining out, snap a pic of your spaghetti creation and post to social media using #NationalSpaghettiDay to spread the word about this awesome holiday.
- Make This Spaghetti Recipe: Maybe you are already a big spaghetti fan, and you like to cook it often. Spice things up by giving our Spaghetti Pomodoro a try—you are sure to enjoy this healthful plant-based entree!
A great way to kick off the New Year, spaghetti is a simple, delicious and wholesome food.
So have fun celebrating National Spaghetti Day!