Pasta World Favourite Food
Pasta has topped a global survey of the world's favourite foods.
How did the dish so closely associated with Italy become a staple of so many tables around the globe?
While not everyone knows the difference between farfalle, fettuccine and fusilli, many people have slurped over a bowl of spaghetti bolognese or tucked into a plate of lasagne.
Certainly in British households, spaghetti bolognese has been a regular feature of mealtimes since the 1960s. It's become a staple of children's diets, while a tuna-pasta-sweetcorn concoction can probably be credited with sustaining many students through their years at university.
But now a global survey by the charity Oxfam has named pasta as the world's most popular dish, ahead of meat, rice and pizza. As well as being popular in unsurprising European countries, pasta was one of the favourites in the Philippines, Guatemala, Brazil and South Africa.
And figures from the International Pasta Organisation show Venezuela is the second largest consumer of pasta, after Italy. Tunisia, Chile and Peru also feature in the top 10, while Mexicans, Argentineans and Bolivians all eat more pasta than the British.
Global sales figures reflect the world's love affair with pasta - they have risen from US$13bn (£8bn) in 2003 to US$16bn (£10bn) in 2010. The analysts at Datamonitor predict it will hit US$19bn (£12bn) by 2015, despite rising wheat costs.
Just in the UK, retail sales of dry and fresh pasta amounted to £53m in 1987. In 2009, the figure was £282m - include pasta-based ready meals and the value rises to £800m, says consumer research experts Mintel.
So how did pasta become so popular? It's because it is cheap, versatile and convenient, says Jim Winship, from the UK-based Pizza, Pasta and Italian Food Association. A sauce to go with it can be made from simple ingredients.
"You can create lots of different dishes with it. It tastes good and it's filling. It also has a long shelf life, so you can keep it in the larder until you need to put a meal together."
But that's only part of its success. Pasta is also relatively easy to mass produce and transport around the world, making it a popular product with food companies as well.
"Ask a footballer what they can cook and they always say spaghetti. It is what you reach for when there is nothing else left in the larder. It's poor people's food and it's unsophisticated. It's the same as bread - you just boil it instead of putting it in the oven."
That’s right boys most of us can cook a pan of pasta (not sure about making a sauce) we won’t go hungry whilst it’s around, says Greengates Builders Merchants Accrington, Lancashire