One of life’s simple pleasures is sitting down with a delicious plate of warm, freshly cooked pasta–a mouthwatering joy that professional cook Miyuki Adachi (@miyukiadachi) knows well. The self-described pasta geek, who hails from Osaka, graduated from university with a degree in British and American literature before she decided to pursue her passion by dedicating herself to the art of making fresh pasta from scratch. As the lead pasta maker at a Toronto restaurant, Adachi now deftly mixes, kneads, and shapes dough into a variety of pasta types, from tubular garganelli, to the delicate ear shapes of orecchiette, to non-traditional double fusilli corkscrews.
Adachi is one of a shrinking number of cooks who still makes fresh pasta by hand even as more consumers turn to factory-manufactured dried varieties. According to a survey by the International Pasta Organization, over 1.5 million tons of dried pasta were consumed in Italy in 2012, compared to less than 157,00 tons of fresh pasta.
Fresh pasta, which is usually paired with lighter sauces to allow the flavor of the noodle to shine through, is generally made from a mixture of eggs and all-purpose flour or “00” low-gluten flour. Many home cooks use pasta machines to roll and slice the dough, but professionals–such as Adachi–often take it one step further by meticulously shaping each individual strand, shell, and spiral by hand. Watching Adachi’s photos and videos of her mesmerizing process, it’s clear that, underneath all of that delectable tastiness, there’s a real artistry involved in the beautiful craft of pasta making.
Scroll down to learn more about the history of fresh pasta making and see some of Adachi’s own work.
The history of homemade pasta dates back thousands of years. A popular myth attributes the introduction of pasta in the West to Marco Polo, who supposedly brought back noodles to Italy from China in the 13th century. Older records, however, indicate that pasta had existed in Europe long before Marco Polo’s trip to China.
Some believe that ancient Etruscans and Romans enjoyed an earlier form of lasagne called lagane or laganas, while others speculate that nomadic Arabs first brought pasta to the Mediterranean from central Asia, where noodles may have originated.
Over time, pasta became rooted in Italian cuisine thanks to the food’s variety, nutrition, and shelf life. By the 14th century, craftsmen had invented pasta machines that enabled mass production, which contributed to pasta’s increasing affordability and popularity as a family staple eaten plainly with the hands.
Tomatoes, which were previously thought to be poisonous, perfectly complemented pasta as delicious sauces that began appearing in cookbooks in the late 18th century.
Large influxes of Italian immigrants to the U.S. and Canada beginning in the 20th century helped make pasta a beloved mainstay in North America, and today it’s enjoyed in restaurants, at fast casual eateries, and as home-cooked meals.