(A) – At the start of the 1300s, pasta was already readily available in Italy, thanks to mass production in Ligurian pasta factories. Its usage increased so that by the 1500s, it was considered a popular food. In Naples, pasta remained a luxury product for centuries until it was mass produced locally during the nineteenth century. The first industrial pasta plant in the Neapolitan area opened in 1840. Despite the existence of these factories and the widespread use of pasta, at the time Neapolitans had not yet paired it with any type of tomato sauce.
Q – What culinary invention made pasta famous?
(A) – Pasta’s popularity exploded with the advent of tomato sauce. Before tomato sauce, pasta was boiled in milk instead of water, and then dressed with sugar, cinnamon and other spices. It was, essentially, a sweet dish.
Q – When is there evidence of the first “pommarola” napoletana?
(A) – For many centuries Campania has been a region that cultivates fruits and vegetables. The Neapolitans were even labeled mangiafoglie, or leaf-eaters, because their produce was so prolific. Because there numerous vegetables available that could serve as an accompaniment to pasta, and because pasta remained in the upper echelons of Neapolitan society fo many years, it took Naples a long time to pair pasta with tomato sauce. So it is not until the middle of the 1800s that we witness the first instance of pasta with sauce. Duke Bonvivino, in the appendix to one of his books, alludes to vermicelli co lo pomodoro, or vermicelli with tomato.