If you need one more reason to keep carb loading after the holiday season, January 4 is National Spaghetti Day and it has got your back. There’s no need to be ashamed about slurping up the last few noodles from your plate when you’ve got hundreds of years, and perhaps some health benefits, to back up this classic dish. I wouldn’t be too worried about eating too much either; the world record for the largest bowl of spaghetti sits at just under 14,000 pounds. So grab your relatively smaller bowl of noodles and leftover red wine and make a toast, well actually make some garlic bread, and let the meat balls “drop” into your mouth to celebrate the upcoming year.
January 4 is a big day for all us, and apparently there’s a National Pasta Association to guide us through all of our endeavors. They have featured experts, such as December’s Domenica Marchetti, author of six books on Italian cooking, who reveal their tips for making the perfect pasta. The NPA also has new recipes to try any time of the year, and they’ve got lots of information about nutrition and diet. Pasta is low in sodium and cholesterol-free, plus it has a low Glycemic Index (GI), which is great because it doesn’t cause your blood sugar to spike drastically when you eat it. And, the website claims pasta is the perfect “delivery system” for healthy foods like vegetables and protein packed cheeses and lean meats. That last one may be a stretch for some, but I’m starting to think spaghetti isn’t so bad after all.
The first documented evidence of spaghetti can be found in the Talmud of Judaism, in which they made a kind of boiled dough called itrium, popular in Palestine from the 3rd to 5th centuries A.D. From there, the product evolved and was found mentioned in a letter to the Norman King of Sicily in 1154 in regard to its manufacture and exportation. Pasta took a similar form to what we know it as today during this time and in the 14th and 15th centuries, it became a staple for people exploring the New World because it could easily be dried and preserved. Spaghetti was introduced to the United States at the end of the 19th century, but it wasn’t until several years later that oregano and basil were commonly used in the sauce.
The word “spaghetti” is the plural form of the Italian word “spaghetto,” which means “thin string” or “twine.” Spaghetti is the most popular kind of noodles, with over 1.3 million pounds sold in American grocery stores in 2000. That means that if you put those boxes in a straight line, they would circle the earth nine times! And though there are many other kinds of noodles, including bowtie, fettucine, rotini, penne, tortellini and so many more, we can’t even begin to compete with people from Italy, who consume 51 pounds of pasta on average every year. However, we can still make delicious dishes, and the National Pasta Association has a large selection of recipes from Classic Carbonara to Healthy Spaghetti and Meatballs to Garlic Shrimp and Broccoli Baked Ziti, all of which are a must try!
There has been much debate about whether a gluten-free diet or a “grains for your brain” approach is better for your overall health. The Grain Foods Foundation has gathered a plethora of information on their website, such as research studies, articles and videos that help readers make more informed decisions about their diets. They tell the story opposite of gluten-free fanatics, claiming our diets may not be better off without wheat grains. They’ve got recipes, FAQ’s, and sources including the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for people to explore and decide for themselves. Who knows, the saying might change to “a bowl of spaghetti a day keeps the doctor away.”
But despite whether you boil up a pot of gluten-rich or gluten-free noodles, National Spaghetti Day is still a day that deserves recognition. So for today, I’ll put my feet up on the coffee table and enjoy a bowl of good ole’ spaghetti; it is a National holiday, after all.