Marco Polo, the great Venetian explorer/merchant is said to have brought back with him from his fabled visits to China, noodles, which became the pasta that Italy is famed for today.
To be more specific, the legend is that he brought back macaroni, which is today a generic term for all dried alimentary pastas made from hard wheat (which the Chinese did not cultivate or consume).
Basically, the idea is that he brought back dried “filamentous” pasta or noodles.
See the related source A Mediterranean Feast: The Story of the Birth of the Celebrated Cuisines of the Mediterranean from the Merchants of Venice to the Barbary Corsairs, with More than 500 Recipes If this is legend instead of fact, why would such a legend have been created? There are only two areas in the world where noodles, in the time after Polo, were a staple food. Everything in between the huge land of Eurasia…no noodles.
It stands to reason, therefore, that there must be some connection between the noodles of Asia and the noodles of Italy. In case you didn’t already know, Italy absolutely does not embrace the legend of Marco Polo and his pasta.
Marco Polo traveled to China around 1271 and returned around 1292. He even served as an adviser to the Yuan Emperor Kubla Khan and visited other parts of the country as an official of the emperor, had his own penthouse apartment in the palace, complete with big screen TV and an indoor swimming pool.
According to Marco Polo’s writing, the first part of this statement is true, he was an “official” of the Emperor, traveled throughout the country in that official capacity, and had his own quarter in the palace.
There is not historical evidence to confirm this account, however..
In the book he mentions noodles and some have used this as evidence that he brought them back with him from China, having discovered this new kind of food there.
But, in fact, the actual passages seem to suggest that he was already well familiar with this kind of food, and was describing the Chinese noodles based on the pasta he already knew from home.
He wrote of the grains that were in use in China at the time, saying that rice, panicum, and millet were a much more efficient source of food, wheat not having the yield of the other grains.
Bread, he said, was not in use, and wheat “is only eaten in the form of .