If you ask a Neapolitan about the origin of spaghetti he probably would claim that they were made in Naples or Pompeii. And we know that Marco Polo claimed that spaghetti were invented by the Chinese. But Sicilians can claim that the stringy pasta was already plentiful in the town of Trabia as early as 1154 AD.
An Arab geographer named Sherif at Idrisi who was on a mission to record customs and traditions in the towns of Sicily for King Roger II wrote the people of Trabia were making a spaghetti like pasta even before 1154. His report recorded in the famous Book of Roger described the town of At Tarbiah as a village west of Termini which had plentiful water that powered many flour mills.
Trabia, according to Idrisi, had many estates where they manifactured an abundance of pasta products which they exported to Calabria and to other Muslim and Christian regions. The stringy pasta they made in Trabia was called Itrya (spaghetti).
On Idrisi’s testimony, therefore, Sicilians can add another first to their credit.
Thank you very much for this amazing history! I did not know this, except for the common conclusion that spaghetti came from the Arabs. I love history, and especially about the history of Sicily! Please post more history lessons on Sicily!
Indeed, I used this information in my book, A History of Muslim Sicily, and Clifford Wright (Food Historian) has an excellent article on “Macaroni”. http://www.cliffordawright.com/caw/food/entries/display.php/id/50/
Thank you for clearing the air on this major Sicilian contribution.
I want to add an article written by students ,about activities done at our school about this theme.
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