|For me Italians have only got two things on the brain… and the other one is spaghetti.
What is pasta, if not spaghetti? Simpler is always better, and it doesn’t get any simpler than a cylindrical strand of semola-and-water dough. The name is also as obvious as can be – the diminutive form (for a shorter length) of string or twine (‘spago’). The most popular form of pasta in the world, spaghetti account for two-thirds of global pasta consumption. Given the pasta’s history, this may be a surprise. The word appeared relatively late, in 1836, the invention delayed because spaghetti are an intrinsically industrial form of pasta which can be extruded only by mechanical press.
Spaghetti being known worldwide came even later. Tinned spaghetti were invented in the last moments of the 19th century in America, and this product (that would make an Italian turn in his grave) became widely available in Britain at the end of the Second World War. The Italian journalist Giuseppe Prezzolini noted spaghetti had done more to spread Italian genius across the globe than the work of Dante. He wasn’t wrong – we watch spaghetti Westerns, drive through Spaghetti Junction, and spag bol is apparently one of Britain’s most cooked dishes today.