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Vermicelli ( , , lit., "little worms") is a type of pasta, round in section and somewhat thinner than spaghetti. Vermicelloni ( "thick vermicelli") is less common, and about the same size as fedelini (also hard to find). Both are thinner than spaghettini ("thin spaghetti").

History in Italy

In 14th-century Italy, extra-fine spaghetti had varying local names. Master Barnaba da Reatinis from Reggio Emilia notes that Tuscan vermicelli are called orati in Bologne, minutelli in Venice, fermentini in Reggio and pancardelle in Mantua."

The first mention of a vermicelli recipe is in the book De arte Coquinaria per vermicelli e maccaroni siciliani (The Art of Cooking Sicilian Macaroni and Vermicelli), compiled by the famous Maestro Martino da Como, unequalled in his field at the time and perhaps the first "celebrity chef," who was the chef at the Roman palazzo of the papal chamberlain ("camerlengo"), the Patriarch of Aquileiamarker. In Martino's Libro de arte coquinaria, there are several recipes for vermicelli, which can last two or three years (doi o tre anni) when dried in the sun.

History in Asia

In South Asia, the vermicelli used is different from what is used in Italymarker. Here, it is made from semolina, unlike the Italian, which is made from durum wheat. In Asia it is known variously as shemai (সেমাই) in Bengali, seviyan in Hindi and Urdu, sev in Gujarati, shavige in Kannada, sevalu or semiya in Telugu, and semiya in Tamil, all probably modified form of 'mian xian' in Mandarin. The noodles are used in a number of dishes including a variation of kheer, a sweet dessert similar to rice pudding. Vermicelli is used in many parts of India to make a popular dish called upma. To prepare it, one boils the dry oil-roasted vermicelli with a choice of vegetables.

In East Asia, the term rice vermicelli is often used to describe the thin rice noodles (米粉) popular in Chinamarker, also known as bee hoon in Hokkien, mai fun in Cantonese, kyar-zun in Burmese, and bún in Vietnamese. The term vermicelli may also refer to vermicelli made from mung bean, which is translucent when cooked, and can be differentiated from rice vermicelli, which turns whitish when cooked. Mung bean vermicelli is commonly used in Chinese cuisine. Conversely, 面线 (Hokkien: mee sua, Cantonese: min seen, Mandarin Chinese: mian xian) is vermicelli that is made of wheat instead of rice. While superficially similar to bee hoon it has a very different texture and different culinary uses as well.

History in the Americas

The fideo is a type of noodle, popular in Mexicanmarker and Latin American cuisine, often referred to in English as "vermicelli." It is commonly used in chicken soup and in sopa seca, a type of side dish.

In the United States, vermicelli is usually the pasta found in Rice-A-Roni, a pilaf-style rice-and-pasta side dish manufactured by The Quaker Oats Company.

History in the Middle East and Northeast Africa

It is used in one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Egypt. The vermicelli is browned by frying with oil or butter, then rice and water are added. Vermicelli is called she'reya (شعريه) in Arabic.

The Persian reshteh also resembles vermicelli. Fālūde or faloodeh is a Persian frozen dessert made with thin vermicelli noodles frozen with corn starch, rose water, lime juice, and often ground pistachios.

In Somalia, it is used in a sweet dish called cadriyad. The vermicelli is browned by frying with butter, then water, sugar and cardamom are added until the vermicelli has softened slightly. It is similar to the Indian kheer. However, no milk or cream is added. It is usually eaten as a dessert or as a side dish with Somali spiced rice dishes.

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