Vermicelli (ˌvɜrmɨˈtʃɛli, vermiˈtʃɛlli, lit., "little worms") is a traditional type of pasta
Pasta is a staple food of traditional Italian cuisine, now of worldwide renown. It takes the form of unleavened dough, made in Italy, mostly of durum wheat , water and sometimes eggs. Pasta comes in a variety of different shapes that serve for both decoration and to act as a carrier for the...

 round in section that is thicker than spaghetti
Spaghetti is a long, thin, cylindrical pasta of Italian origin. Spaghetti is made of semolina or flour and water. Italian dried spaghetti is made from durum wheat semolina, but outside of Italy it may be made with other kinds of flour...


Vermicelli thickness comparison

Pasta name Thickness
Vermicelli diameter between 2.08–2.14 mm (0.0818897637795276–0.084251968503937 in) with little variation between different producers.
Spaghetti diameter between 1.92–2 mm (0.0755905511811024–0.078740157480315 in)
Vermicellini (ˌvɜrmɨtʃɛˈlini "thin vermicelli") diameter between 1.75–1.8 mm (0.0688976377952756–0.0708661417322835 in)
Fedelini diameter between 1.37–1.47 mm (0.0539370078740158–0.0578740157480315 in)
Capellini with its diameter between 0.85 mm and 0.92 mm is a very thin variety of Italian pasta. Like spaghetti, it is rod-shaped, in the form of long strands....

 (or "capelli d'angelo" - angel's hair)
diameter between 0.8–0.9 mm (0.031496062992126–0.0354330708661417 in)

In USA, the National Pasta Association
National Pasta Association
The National Pasta Association is a trade association of professionals in the United States pasta industry. The NPA originally formed as The National Association of Macaroni and Noodle Manufacturers of America in 1904, making it one of the oldest trade associations in the United States.-History:A...

, founded in 1904, lists, together with various spelling mistakes, vermicelli as a thinner type of spaghetti.

History in Italy

In 14th-century Italy, long pasta shapes had varying local names. Barnabas de Reatinis of Reggio notes in his Compendium de naturis et proprietatibus alimentorum (1338) that the Tuscan vermicelli are called orati in Bologna, 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
Martino da Como
Martino da Como was an Italian 15th-century culinary expert who was unequalled in his field at the time and is the Western world's first celebrity chef. He was the chef at the Roman palazzo of the papal chamberlain , the Patriarch of Aquileia...

, 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 Aquileia
Patriarch of Aquileia
The Patriarch of Aquileia was an office in the Roman Catholic Church. During the Middle Ages the Patriarchate of Aquileia was a temporal state in Northern Italy. The Patriarchate of Aquileia as a church office was suppressed in 1752....

. 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 English, the Italian loanword "vermicelli" is used to indicate different sorts of long pasta shapes from different part of the world but mostly from South or East Asia. The dish in the original language are variously known as seviyan in Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

 and Hindi
Standard Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi , High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, and Literary Hindi, is a standardized and sanskritized register of the Hindustani language derived from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi...

, shemai in Bengali
Bengali language
Bengali or Bangla is an eastern Indo-Aryan language. It is native to the region of eastern South Asia known as Bengal, which comprises present day Bangladesh, the Indian state of West Bengal, and parts of the Indian states of Tripura and Assam. It is written with the Bengali script...

, sev in Gujarati
Gujarati language
Gujarati is an Indo-Aryan language, and part of the greater Indo-European language family. It is derived from a language called Old Gujarati which is the ancestor language of the modern Gujarati and Rajasthani languages...

, shavige in Kannada, sevalu or semiya in Telugu
Telugu language
Telugu is a Central Dravidian language primarily spoken in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, where it is an official language. It is also spoken in the neighbouring states of Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa and Tamil Nadu...

, and semiya in Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

 and Malayalam. The noodles are used in a number of dishes including a variation of kheer
Kheer also known as Payasam or Payesh is a rice pudding, which is a traditional South Asian sweet dish...

, a sweet dessert similar to rice pudding
Rice pudding
Rice pudding is a dish made from rice mixed with water or milk and sometimes other ingredients such as cinnamon and raisins. Different variants are used for either desserts or dinners. When used as a dessert, it is commonly combined with a sweetener such as sugar.-Rice pudding around the world:Rice...

. Vermicelli are also used in many parts of India to make a popular dish called upma
Upma is a popular Indian breakfast dish originating in South India.-Etymology:The general name of the dish in most languages is formed from two words : salt and flour...

. To prepare it, dry oil-roasted vermicelli are boiled with a choice of vegetables.

In East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

, the term rice vermicelli
Rice vermicelli
Rice vermicelli are thin noodles made from rice and are a form of rice noodles. They are sometimes referred to as rice noodles or rice sticks, but they should not be confused with cellophane noodles, which is another type of vermicelli....

 is often used to describe the thin rice noodles
Rice noodles
Rice noodles are noodles that are made from rice. Their principal ingredients are rice flour and water. However, sometimes other ingredients such as tapioca or corn starch are also added in order to improve the transparency or increase the gelatinous and chewy texture of the noodles.Rice noodles...

 (米粉) popular in China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, also known as bee hoon in Hokkien, mai fun in Cantonese, วุ้นเส้น (Wûns̄ên) in Thai
Thai language
Thai , also known as Central Thai and Siamese, is the national and official language of Thailand and the native language of the Thai people, Thailand's dominant ethnic group. Thai is a member of the Tai group of the Tai–Kadai language family. Historical linguists have been unable to definitively...

, (kya zan) in Burmese
Burmese language
The Burmese language is the official language of Burma. Although the constitution officially recognizes it as the Myanmar language, most English speakers continue to refer to the language as Burmese. Burmese is the native language of the Bamar and related sub-ethnic groups of the Bamar, as well as...

, and bún in Vietnamese. The term vermicelli may also refer to vermicelli made from mung bean, which is translucent when cooked, whereas rice vermicelli turns whitish when cooked. Mung bean vermicelli is commonly used in Chinese cuisine. In contrast, misua
Misua is a very thin variety of salted Chinese noodles made from wheat flour. It is originated from Fujian, China...

  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
In Spanish, Fideo means noodle. Fideo is a type of pasta commonly used in soups. Fideo can be short or long .There are a wide variety of recipes, in Spain and in America.-Etymology:...

is a type of noodle, popular in Mexican
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and Latin American cuisine, often referred to by speakers of 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
Rice-A-Roni is a product of PepsiCo's subsidiary, the Quaker Oats Company. It is a boxed food mix that consists of rice, vermicelli pasta, and seasonings. To prepare, the rice and pasta are browned in butter, then water and seasonings are added and simmered until absorbed.-History:In 1895,...

, a pilaf-style rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

-and-pasta side-dish manufactured by The Quaker Oats Company.

History in the Middle East and Northeast Africa

Vermicelli, called she'reya (شعريه) in Arabic, is used in one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Egypt
Egyptian cuisine
Egyptian cuisine consists of the local culinary traditions of Egypt. Egyptian cuisine makes heavy use of legumes and vegetables, as Egypt's rich Nile Valley and Delta produce large quantities of high-quality crops.- History and characteristics :...

. The vermicelli is browned by frying with oil or butter, then rice and water are added.

Persian reshteh
Reshteh , from the Persian word for thread or string, refers to a very fine noodle similar to capellini . However, it generally means a fresh ribbon shaped egg noodle. Traditionally the noodle would be a homemade and cut item. Reshteh was the only word used to denote noodles in Arab cookbooks of...

also resembles vermicelli. Fālūde
Fālūde or Pālūde is a Persian cold dessert made of thin vermicelli noodles with corn starch, rose water, lime juice, and often ground pistachios. It is a traditional dessert in Iran and Afghanistan. The faloodeh of Shiraz is especially famous....

 or faloodeh is a Persian frozen dessert made with thin vermicelli noodles frozen with corn starch, rose water, lime
Lime (fruit)
Lime is a term referring to a number of different citrus fruits, both species and hybrids, which are typically round, green to yellow in color, 3–6 cm in diameter, and containing sour and acidic pulp. Limes are a good source of vitamin C. Limes are often used to accent the flavors of foods and...

 juice, and often ground pistachios.

In Somalia
Somali cuisine
Somali cuisine varies from region to region and is a mixture of native Somali, Ethiopian, Yemeni, Persian, Turkish, Indian and Italian influences. It is the product of Somalia's tradition of trade and commerce. All food is halal.- Breakfast :...

, it is used in a sweet dish called cadriyad. The vermicelli is browned by frying with butter, then water, sugar, and cardamom
Cardamom refers to several plants of the genera Elettaria and Amomum in the ginger family Zingiberaceae. Both genera are native to India and Bhutan; they are recognised by their small seed pod, triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin papery outer shell and small black seeds...

 are added until the vermicelli has softened slightly. It is similar to the Indian kheer
Kheer also known as Payasam or Payesh is a rice pudding, which is a traditional South Asian sweet dish...

; 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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