Spaghetti and other forms of pasta are usually thought of as Italian foods. In fact, anthropologists have discovered that pasta has been around in some form since human beings began to grow and harvest wheat. Throughout its history, pasta is linked with the story of wheat farming. In areas where the climate was right for wheat, we have evidence that people were eating pasta.
Because the climate of Egypt and much of the Middle East is not ideal for wheat, there is no mention of pasta in any written record. In fact, the first written mention of pasta was in a first century cookbook by Roman chef Apicius in first century A.D. Specifically, he refers to pasta in the form of ribbons, making many historians believe that this is the first written reference to spaghetti.
In later centuries, historians have found references to pasta making equipment that was used by the Etruscans. References to similar foods in the historical record have also caused some historians to theorize that pasta originated in Ancient Greece, but there is no definitive proof of this.
In fact, the next written record of pasta comes from the twelfth century. In this reference, the Italian nobleman Guglielmo di Malavalle makes reference to a food very similar to macaroni being served at a banquet. Within the next two centuries, dried pasta was mentioned several times in the historical record. This pasta was used by sailors on voyages out of Sicily. Because it stored easily and did not spoil, it was an ideal food for long sea voyages
By the sixteenth century, however, fresh pasta was still considered to be a luxury food. Although spaghetti was being produced in large bakeries by this point in history, it was usually only eaten by the wealthy. This is because the durum wheat required to make spaghetti was difficult to grow and harvest efficiently, making the basic ingredient of spaghetti very expensive.
By the early seventeenth century, however, farming techniques had improved to the point where pasta become more widely available. Simple, home-based pasta manufacturing machines made it a practical food for people at all income levels. It was in this century that pasta became a staple in the Italian diet.
The first large-scale pasta bakery was Buitoni, which first opened its doors in 1827. This company still exists today, but it is now a subsidiary of the Nestles group. Today, commercially produced spaghetti is available all over the world and it is considered to be a staple of the modern diet.