| by Drew Middleton
Today marks World Pasta Day 2016 - that's right, "the world's favourite dish" has it's own 24-hours in which you can celebrate spaghetti, macaroni, linguine and co.
Remarkably, this is a special yearly occasion for pasta lovers across the globe. Using the hashtag #worldpastaday, social savvy spaghetti-lovers and fans of Italian cuisine have been sharing their soft spots for the ever-popular food. We break down facts, myths and everything else you need to know...
Italy? Wrong. Myth busted. Famous explorer Marco Polo brought pasta to Italy (the port of Genoa specifically) via China in 1295. However, this theory does not stand well with many. The "pasta" from Asia in question: noodles. Technically noodles aren't defined as pasta. Yet the Chinese had been making noodles for nearly 4,000-years and there are many comparisons between the two foods.
Other historians credit Arabs and/or Greeks for bringing pasta - alongside vegetables such as eggplant and spinach - to Mediterranean shores. Ultimately we will never know who to send a bottle of champagne to for the kudos. But shock to most, it's not Italy.
An estimated 600 varieties of pasta exist in the world today, according to the International Pasta Organisation (IPO). From tiny tubes like macaroni and cannolicchi medi, to conchiglioni shells, to stuffed ravioli and spiralled fusilli - there are differences in shape and size everywhere you travel.
Pasta is by rule a white-yellow colour, but in certain regions of the world it can be dyed using natural vegetable juices such as beetroot (to turn it red) and spinach (to turn it green). Wonderful, no?
Every culture adopts their own spin on pasta: whether it's fried/baked/boiled/steamed; lathered with melting cheese, cream or sauce; flavoured and coupled with meat, vegetables; put in stews, soups; seasoned with salt and pepper or exotic spices... the list keeps on growing. Pasta is as diverse a dish as it gets.
America - spaghetti and meatballs, macaroni cheese
Italy - pasta en brodo (served in soup), pasta el forno (baked e.g. lasagna)
Spain - fideos (short noddle-pasta)
Uruguay - ñoquis/gnocchi (noodle-like flour and potato dumplings)
For the full list, see Food.Mic's 'how pasta is eaten around the world' here.
Su Filindeu. It's a 300-year-old Italian pasta originating from the town of Nuoro on the island of Sardinia. Translated as "the threads of God", 256 perfectly formed pasta strands are stretched and layered atop each other before being dried in the Mediterranean sun and broken up.
Supposedly, only three women in the world know how to make this - and the spectacular process has baffled the likes of culinary genius Jamie Oliver: "I've been making pasta for 20 years and I've never seen anything like this. It's difficult"
After new signing Victor Wanyama tweeted back in May 2012 "I had spaghetti and it was very nice I enjoyed it", the North London club decided to bring an overly excited Victor into the studio to pose holding a chunk of it. A fun nod to the day.
So whatever your plans are for World Pasta Day 2016, pay tribute to it. Cook up a family pot of Spag Bol, make DIY penne at home or simply place a picture shrine for Mac 'n' Cheese on your bedroom wall. Pasta makes for a perfect lunch box too. It all counts. We leave you with our favourite three pasta pics from Instagram. Yum!...