Learn About It’s Fascinating History Of Vermicelli
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Vermicelli, is typically thinner than spaghetti and has a rich history that spans several cultures and centuries. The name vermicelli possibly comes from the Italian word ‘verme,’ meaning "worm," a reference to the pasta's long, thin shape. 

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However, the earliest forms of pasta, including vermicelli, are believed to have originated in China. It is believed that the Chinese were making noodles from millet as early as 2000 BCE. These early noodles were likely similar to vermicelli in their thin, elongated form. The Middle East also has a long history of noodle-like foods. This food was made from semolina and dried before cooking, indicating an early form of pasta. 

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In ancient China, noodles were made from various grains, including wheat and rice, and came in different shapes and sizes, some of which were similar to vermicelli. Chinese cuisine features many types of thin noodles, such as miàn and fěn, which are still popular today.

While thin noodles like vermicelli likely originated in ancient China, the concept of long, thin pasta spread and evolved independently in various cultures. Each region adapted the basic idea to suit local tastes and ingredients, resulting in a rich diversity of vermicelli-like dishes around the world. Thus, while China can be credited with the early development of noodle forms that resemble vermicelli, the pasta as we know it today has been shaped by many different culinary traditions over centuries. There really isn’t any concrete answer regarding where the Vermicelli originated.

The Italian Story

Vermicelli made its way to Italy by the 14th century. Italian cuisine embraced and adapted pasta in various forms, including vermicelli. The Italian version was made from durum wheat, which provided the necessary gluten content to create firm, resilient pasta. By the 15th century, vermicelli was a well-known product in Italy, particularly in southern regions like Naples. It became a staple in Italian cuisine, used in soups, broths, and various dishes.

Apart from Italy, vermicelli soon spread to other parts of Europe. In France, it became known as vermicelle, and was often used in soups and other dishes. Throughout Europe, vermicelli was appreciated for its quick cooking time and versatility in recipes.

Italian immigrants brought vermicelli and other types of pasta to America in the 19th and early 20th centuries. This helped popularise pasta in the United States and other parts of the New World.

Passage To India

Vermicelli was also adopted and adapted in South Asian cuisines. It probably came to India through Middle Eastern traders and trade routes such as the Silk Road.

In India, vermicelli is known as seviyan or semiya and is used in both savoury and sweet dishes. Vermicelli, or seviyan, is a versatile ingredient and is loved for its ability to absorb flavours. Its delicate texture makes it a favourite in many regional cuisines across India. 

Whether celebrating a festival or enjoying a hearty breakfast, vermicelli dishes are cherished for their taste and tradition. Payasam or kheer, a sweet pudding made with milk, sugar, and vermicelli and Upma, a savoury dish made with roasted vermicelli, vegetables, and spices are two of the most popular dishes made using vermicelli, in India.

There is also Semiya Upkari, a Konkani dish where vermicelli is cooked with coconut, mustard seeds, curry leaves, and other spices and Sheer Khurma, a rich, creamy dessert prepared by the Muslim communities in India, during the festival of Eid. It's made with vermicelli, milk, dates, nuts, and sometimes dried fruits.

The Southeast Asia And The Middle East Connection

In Southeast Asia, vermicelli is typically made from rice flour and is known as "rice vermicelli" or "rice noodles." It is used in various dishes, including soups, salads, and stir-fries.

In Middle Eastern and North African cuisines, vermicelli is often used in rice dishes and desserts. A common preparation involves browning the vermicelli in butter before mixing it with rice, which adds a distinct flavour and texture to the dish.

Today, vermicelli is a global food, available in various forms and made from different types of flour. It is used in a wide range of dishes, from Italian pastas to Asian stir-fries and desserts. The versatility and convenience of vermicelli have made it a beloved ingredient in kitchens around the world.