MACARONI

“Legend has it that in the late thirteenth century, German bakers made large figures out of noodle dough in the shapes of men, stars, birds and sea shells, which they collectively called ‘doughmen’. These bakers went to Genoa, Italy, to sell their product, but the Italians found them too expensive and exclaimed ‘ma caroni’, meaning ‘but it’s too dear’. So the Germans reduced the size and, with the size, the price. They made a bundle and the name stuck.” The New Basics Cookbook

 

The Sicilian word macarune roughly translates as “forced into dough,” reflecting

the fact that milled durum wheat, called semolina, is granular, like sugar, not

powdery like other flours. In order to make it malleable enough to roll out, ancient

noodle making techniques required men to knead durum wheat with their feet,

sometimes for an entire day. Then the dough was extruded through pierced dies

with pressure brought by two men or a horse. Until the Industrial Revolution eased

this labor intensive process, pasta was a costly commodity, available only to the

wealthy.

 

By the 1660s, the Industrial Revolution had reached Naples and a process was

invented to extrude pasta through a mechanical die, allowing pasta to be produced

efficiently on a large scale. Pasta became affordable to the masses, and it was sold

in the street by vendors called maccaronaros, who boiled it over charcoal fires. It

was eaten on the spot with bare hands, perhaps sprinkled with cheese, but without

sauce.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA BAKED MACARONI AND CHEESE
Pasta, macaroni, cauliflower macaroni and cheese 4 CAULIFLOWER MACARONI AND CHEESE
Pasta, macaroni, Frida Kahlo's macaroni and spinach 2 FRIDA KAHLO’S MACARONI WITH SPINACH
Pasta, macaroni, Greek pastitsio with eggplant and lamb 4 BAKED PASTITSIO WITH EGGPLANT AND LAMB
Pasta, macaroni, Italian pastitsio with ham and ricotta 2 BAKED PASTITSIO WITH HAM AND RICOTTA
Pasta, macaroni and cheese with ham and mushrooms 3 PIERRE FRANEY’S MACARONI AND CHEESE WITH HAM AND MUSHROOMS