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Dining with Marco Polo
Photo Bettmann / CORBIS

Dining with Marco Polo

The world’s love affair with pasta began with the travels of this ancient Venetian explorer.

By FDL on

“No other man, Christian or Saracen, Mongol or pagan, has explored so much of the world as Messer Marco, son of Messer Niccolo Polo, great and noble citizen of the city of Venice." (from the book Il Milione)

Marco Polo was born in Venice to a family of travellers and at the age of just seventeen, he embarked on the famous voyage towards the East along with his father Nicolò and his uncle Matteo.

During his adventure lasting 24 years, he crossed all of Asia and even arrived to Peking, the residence of the Kublai Khan and the nerve centre of an enormous, incredible empire, where Marco remained at the service of the Emperor for several years, engaged in diplomatic and administrative duties.

Then, according to tradition, when he returned from his trip to Asia in 1295, Marco Polo brought with him marvellous fabrics and spices, as well as a strange food made of soft strips: pasta. While this story is famous, it’s actually a legend; the pasta that Marco Polo had tasted was completely different than durum wheat pasta, as it was a pasta that had been made from “the wheat of trees” (which was soy).

Confirming this thesis, we also point out that the first written account relative to dried pasta production in Italy goes back to documents dated 1154, that indicate its diffusion in the South. And later documents certify that at the end of the 3rd Century pasta was already widespread throughout the Central Northwestern area of the Italian peninsula.

This text is taken from the book Tacuinum de' Eccellentissimi, Ali&no publisher

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