Boccaccio, in his Decameron, describes a mountain of finely grated parmesan cheese in the mythical land of Bengodi. On the top are people who make nothing but macaroni and noodles brewed in capon broth. The pasta is cooked "al dente" and tossed with farm fresh butter before it rolls down the mountain, gathering parmesan as it goes to its final destination - the open mouths of the citizens below.
It is rather well known that spaghetti was invented by the Chinese. The recipe is listed in a cookbook date about 1000 BC. Eventually, the dish worked its wasy westward to India, where it was called "servika," which means thread. It soon worked its way over to Persia, where it was called "rishta," also meaning thread.
People were eating pasta in Italy at least thirteen years before Marco Polo returned from Cathay, and possibly as early as the eleventh century. Many wealthy Italians of the period had Tartar (Mongol) slaves, who would have been able to prepare this dish for them. From Italy, just like the Renaissance and the plague, pasta worked its way north to France and England. Pasta was in England by the fifteenth century. We know this because thaere are recipes in the Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books and The Forme of Cury. A sixteenth century Italian engraving of a typical kitchen shows people making pasta. The Etruscans developed the recipe for parmesan cheese. The Romans adopted it because the great wheels traveled so well.
A menu for a banquet given by Pope Pius V in 1570 lists parmesan cheese. The recipe for Macrows in The Forme of Cury is what I would call macaroni and cheese:
"Take and make a thynne foyle of dowh, and kerve it on pieces, and cast hem on boilling water & seep it wele; take chese and grate it and butter cast hynethen and above as losyns and serve forth."
Tournaments Illuminated #73, "Period Pasta" by Aurielie de Montpellier.
Tournaments Illuminated #91, "Cheeses, a History" by Marcia of Jarrow Motte.
Macrows is featured in Feast for Christmas Revel
Rebecca A. C. Smith is a tax collector for the State of Louisiana. She is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, while her other hobby is Science Fiction and Sci-Fi Fandom.
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