No ecosystem is more biodiverse than the pasta aisle of an Italian market.
The Germans bake over 300 kinds of bread. The French make more than 400 types of cheese. But neither come close to the Italians, who’ve invented over 1,300 shapes of pasta, according to the Encyclopedia of Pasta. Admittedly, like nonna’s dearest grandchild, there are multiple names for each. Cavatelli, for example, goes by 28 different names depending on the region and town. All of which is to say, pasta is complicated.
Historians still argue over the first shape of pasta and where it was invented—China or Italy. But National Geographic dates Italian references to pasta back to the 13th century, including macaroni, ravioli, gnocchi and vermicelli. In paintings from 14th-century Italy, you can see people eating spaghetti-like noodles with their hands. But spaghetti didn’t spread throughout the boot until the first factories came along in the 19th century, enabling mass production. Fun fact: those days, it used to twice as long as it is today.
So go test your knowledge with our quiz below. How many can you name?