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Growing Spaghetti

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A picture of woman harvesting spaghetti from a 1957 episode of BBC's Panorama.

Updated 1 April 2010

As April spreads its warmth on a new Spring, all over Italy farmers are busy planting. It is time for the new pasta crop and new plants are being put in the earth to supplement the already vast pasta fields. Already an early crop (Pesce d'aprile and the tender Ispazzia) is being harvested.

Along with the traditional pasta crops like spaghetti, rigatoni, perciatelli, vermicelli, ziti, linguine, bavette, and trenette, new varieties have been started like guarnizione, gabbinetto, puntaspilli, porcili, natiche, tacconi, pici di siena and spelt tagliatelle to help meet the insatiable appetites of the public.

Thanks to cross-breeding a few decades back, such varieties as radiatore and gnocchi were developed and now new types are about to be grown. This autumn, when the long strands of spaghetti are taken from the branches to dry, for the first time buds will open to reveal the late-harvested ready-stuffed varieties.

Genetic engineering is producing crops like tortellini stuffed with natural cheese grown and ready for picking. Some say this genetic combination of animal and plant is a dangerous road to follow, and indeed in some other fields perhaps it is.

But just try to tell that to those who enjoy this pasta fresh from the bush covered with sauce!

All of Italy awaits this harvest with anticipation and those of us lucky enough to live so close that we can enjoy the fresh produce do as well. The rest of the world will once again enjoy the dried or freshly shipped variety, but be happy in the knowledge that the clean, green fields of Italy gave us this bountiful harvest.

The Truth Behind Pasta

Well, of course, pasta doesn't grow on trees, just in the same way that hash browns aren't a natural variety of potatoes and tapioca isn't really frogspawn. However, that didn't stop the BBC's Panorama current affairs programme from convincing British viewers otherwise, courtesy of an elaborate April Fools' prank in 1957.

For more information, see the BBC special report on the Silly Season or find out more about how Panorama fooled the nation. Plus, 10 stories that might be April Fools but aren't.

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