Pasta is a staple food of traditional Italian cuisine, with the first reference dating to 1154 in Sicily.
Pasta is generally a simple dish, but comes in many varieties due to its versatility. Some pasta dishes are served as a first course in Italy because the portion sizes are small and simple. Pasta is also prepared in light lunches, such as salads or large portion sizes for dinner. It can be prepared by hand or food processor and served hot or cold. Pasta sauces vary in taste, color and texture. When choosing which type of pasta and sauce to serve together, there is a general rule regarding compatibility. Simple sauces like pesto are ideal for long and thin strands of pasta while tomato sauce combines well with thicker pastas. Thicker and chunkier sauces have the better ability to cling onto the holes and cuts of short, tubular, twisted pastas. The extra sauce left on the plate after all of the pasta is eaten is often mopped up with a piece of bread.
Pasta was originally solely a part of Italian and European cuisine owing to its popularity there. With an increase in popularity on a worldwide scale, pasta has crossed international borders and is now a popular form of fast food and a staple in North America and elsewhere. This is due to the great amount of Italian immigration into Canada and the United States around the beginning of the 20th century. Similarly an immense immigration of Italians into South Africa ensured that spaghetti with meatballs became an essential part of South African cuisine.