Gift from the Far East that has kept on giving

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From: William Snowden, Dobrudden Park, Baildon Moor, Baildon.

I HAVE coeliac disease, and have to avoid eating cereals (a gluten-free diet). On a recent visit to the health centre, I was seen by a junior doctor, a tall and elegant Muslim girl.

“I am coeliac,” she revealed coyly. “Are you?” I exclaimed, smiling benignly at a fellow sufferer. I should have guessed, given how reed-like she was.

She nodded, returning my smile: “Yes, and I had got a taste for cheese and tomato pizza, and spaghetti.”

I shared her lament. The Italian actress Sophia Loren has revealed that “everything I have I owe to olive oil and spaghetti”.

But is it a traditional Italian dish? The 13th century Venetian traveller, Marco Polo, recounted how he saw and ate spaghetti, for the very first time, at the court of Kublai Khan in...China.

Then, as now, it would appear that the Orient was serving the West with its favourite things.