Spotlight: When and How to Celebrate National Pasta Day
Americans love pasta. In fact, on average, Americans consume about 20 pounds per person every year. This amount accounts for about 24% of the global consumption of pasta. If you’re a pasta lover, then you may want to circle October 17th on your calendar because it is National Pasta Day.
How Pasta Got its Day
There is a national day for almost anything you can think of, including National Donut Day, National Give Something Away Day or National Rat Catcher’s Day. These days can be found online at sites like nationaldaycalendar.com or, if you want to look up national food days, they are found at foodimentary.com.
The food website lists approximately 450 national days for different types of foods. Along with a pasta day, you can also celebrate National Macaroni Day on July 7th or National Spaghetti Day on January 4th. There is also a World Pasta Day on October 25th. To declare a day for your favorite food, you can take to the internet and start promoting it on social media.
There isn’t a formal way to appoint a national day because there isn’t a government agency that handles holidays and observances. The federal government observes 10 national holidays, which are usually designated by Congress. However, some national days, not holidays, have been the result of Presidential proclamations.
President Ronald Reagan declared National Ice Cream Day on July 9, 1984, and National Catfish Day on June 25, 1987. Most proclamations by presidents are reserved for more somber occasions such as a National Day of Prayer or Mother’s Day, which was declared by Woodrow Wilson in 1914.
Many companies and civic groups will strive to start some type of national day to promote their products or their cause. They will put out press releases to try to get media attention and promote it on social media sites like YouTube by putting out videos promoting the day.
While the creator of the national day of observance for pasta is unknown, pasta’s history goes back to the ancient Romans in about 1279 AD. Thomas Jefferson first tasted pasta in Naples and brought macaroni and a pasta machine back to America in 1789.
Types of Pasta
Dry pasta, which is usually made from flour and water, is available in grocery stores in bags or boxes. Most Italian restaurants and talented home cooks make fresh pasta, which adds an egg to the flour and water recipe. Many types of dry pasta are available in different shapes for which they are named.
About 350 types of pasta exist in the world, so they all won’t be named here, but here are 10 types with which you may be familiar and their shapes.
- Spaghetti – This pasta translates to twine in Italian.
- Capellini is very thin spaghetti or “little hairs.”
- Linguini – Its name means little tongues in Italian.
- Vermicelli – Means “little worms,” and looks like a thicker spaghetti.
- Rotini is shaped as spirals and means “little wheels.”
- Ravioli – Are “little turnips” because the pasta was originally stuffed with turnips. Now, it is stuffed with meat, cheese, and other foods.
- Fusilli – Translates to “little spindles” and look like short spirals.
- Conchiglie – Means “conch shells,” which is how they are shaped.
- Cannelloni is tubed shaped so that they can be stuffed with meat or cheese, and the name translates to “large tubes.”
- Tortellini is made into squares, stuffed and then shaped like a ring. It’s meaning is “cake” or “fritter.”
Fresh Pasta Recipe
If you want to celebrate the day by making pasta from scratch, there are many recipes available on the internet. A basic pasta recipe includes only four ingredients:
- One egg, slightly beaten.
- One-half teaspoon of salt.
- One cup of all-purpose flour.
- Two tablespoons of water.
To form the pasta, you will need to:
Combine the flour and salt in a medium-size bowl. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, add the egg and mix. The dough will be stiff, so you can add one to two tablespoons of water as needed.
Next, take the dough out of the bowl and place it on a floured table or counter. Knead it for three to four minutes and either roll it out by hand or use a pasta machine to roll it to the thinness that you want. Then, with a knife or machine, cut it into strips as wide or as narrow as you wish.
To cook the pasta:
Once the pasta is cut, you can store it in the refrigerator for a few days or cook it immediately. All it takes to cook fresh pasta is a large pot full of boiling, salted water. Place a large pot, like a stock pot, over medium-high to high heat on your stove and add salt to the water to give the pasta some flavor.
When the water is at a rolling boil, carefully drop the pasta into the pot. Stir it slightly to ensure it separates. Cooking fresh pasta only takes between 90 seconds to four minutes. If you want al dente pasta, it should only cook for about two minutes.
When the pasta is done, take it out of the water and place it in a colander to drain the water from it. Then, you can plate it and add sauce or serve it with some fresh pepper, a pinch of salt, a drizzle of olive oil and grated parmesan.
With this recipe, you can make spaghetti, lasagna, tortellini, or any other type of pasta that you want. Then, when National Pasta Day comes around, you can make your favorite Italian dish. Make spaghetti with garlic bread, a meaty, or vegetable, lasagna, or seafood ravioli.
Visit an Italian Restaurant
Some restaurants offer special promotions to celebrate pasta on October 17th. One of them is Olive Garden, which can be found almost anywhere in the US because they have over 800 restaurants.
Their special isn’t necessarily only for pasta day, as it is available every day of the year. They offer an “endless bowl of pasta” for about 10 bucks, so it’s a deal you don’t need to worry about missing if you can’t go on pasta day.
Carrabba’s Italian Grill
With 200 stores, this chain isn’t as large as Olive Garden, but they offer a great deal on pasta. Instead of only celebrating it for one day, their special extends for two. Their offer is a BOGO; buy a spaghetti dish on pasta day and receive a free spaghetti entree. So, if you can’t go on Oct. 17th, try to make it on the 18th to get the same deal.
Maggiano’s Little Italy
This small chain from Chicago has about 50 restaurants in 20 states, but they also offer a pasta day special. If you dine-in and order a classic pasta meal, you can get one to go for free. They also celebrate National Lasagna Day on July 28th.
Cucina Italia is another chain offering reduced rates on their dishes for pasta day on the 17th, as well as all of October. October is World Pasta Month, so it only makes sense that an Italian restaurant would celebrate the entire month and not just one day.
Cucina Italia, which has locations in 20 states, is offering a two-course combo, which pairs soup or salad with an entrée, for a discounted price. You could pair ravioli with salad or get a soup and spaghetti combo any time during the month.
If you’re a first responder, then you can get a free meal throughout World Pasta Month. Firefighters, police officers and EMTs can get a free dish, Mom’s Ricotta Meatballs and Spaghetti, when they visit the restaurant. There are no limits on how many times they can go, so they can go every day if they want.
Not every chain is offering freebies to everyone, but if you tweet Fazoli’s on pasta day, you could win a gift card to use at their restaurants.
Keep in mind that these specials were offered in 2017, so you should check with your favorite chain to see if they are offering the same ones this year. There may also be discounts or free meals from local Italian restaurants, so check with them closer to the date.
Share a Meal
Another great way to celebrate pasta is to share a meal with your family, church or civic group, or with someone in need. Make a large pot of spaghetti and take some to an elderly neighbor or a mom who may be struggling to feed her children.
Italian families love to come together to break bread and share their favorite pasta dishes. Even if you’re not Italian, try making fresh pasta and challenge other family members to make some as well. Then, have a potluck and share the dishes you’ve made. You may start a family tradition!
Along with a fresh pasta recipe, look for sauce recipes online to go on your pasta. Also, look for a good wine to pair with it for a nice meal on National Pasta Day.