Many people think Italy was the birthplace of pasta, but the oldest noodles ever found were unearthed during an archaeological exploration in China. The noodles, found in a bowl buried under 10 feet of dirt, were made from two types of grain grown in China for more than 7,000 years!
Though there are hundreds of different types of noodles, pasta can be organized into different groups, including long pasta (spaghetti, angel hair), tubes (penne), soup pastas (orzo, alphabet), stuffed (tortellini, ravioli) and special shapes (farfalle, fusilli).
There are approximately 350 different types of pasta around the world — and about four times that many names for them! For example, due to its shape, farfalle pasta is often called “butterfly" or “bowtie" pasta.
Cooks use different shapes and sizes of pasta for different purposes. For example, different shapes hold different sauces better than others.
Some cooks say thin pastas, such as angel hair, should be served with thin sauces, while thicker sauces work better with thicker, heavier pastas. People often pair flat pastas with cream sauces, while tomato sauces seem to cling better to round pastas.