Esicium Romanum
Homemade noodles in Parmesan cheese - contributed by Gaylin J. Walli

Original recipe from De honesta voluptate:

Roman Noodles. Blend meal which has been separated from chaff with water in the best way. When it has been blended, spread it out on a board and roll it with a rounded and oblong piece of wood such as bakers are accustomed to use in such a trade. Then when it has been drawn out to the width of a finger, cut it. It is so long you would call it a fillet. It ought to be cooked in rich and continually boiling broth, but if, at the time, it must be cooked in water, put in butter and salt. When it is cooked, it ought to be put in a pan with cheese, butter, sugar, and sweet spices. (Milham, 329)

Modern recipe: Roman Noodles

For 160:

  • 5 gallons Semolina flour 
  • 3/8 cup salt 
  • 1 1/4 gallons warm water
  • Semolina flour, for dusting
  • 1 1/4 quarts grated fresh Parmesan cheese
For 8:
  • 4 cups Semolina flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • Semolina flour, for dusting
  • 4 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add warm water and stir to make a stiff dough. Increase the water a few spoonfuls at a time if the dough seems too dry. Pat the dough into a ball and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for 10 to 15 minutes. Cover. Let dough rest for 20 minutes more.

Roll out the dough using rolling pin or pasta machine. Work with a 1/4 of the dough at one time. Keep the rest covered, to prevent from drying out. Roll by hand to 1/16 of an inch thick. By machine, stop at the third to last setting. Cut pasta into ribbons, the width of your finger and between 6-12 inches long or into desired shapes.

Cook fresh noodles in rapidly boiling broth or salted water for 3 to 5 minutes until firmly cooked through (al dente). Drain, sprinkle with cheese, and serve.

Per serving nutritional information:

312 Calories; 1.6g Fat (1% calories from fat); 11.6g Protein; 60.9g Carbohydrate; 2mg Cholesterol; 315mg Sodium

Notes on the recipe:

Platina's recipe seems less concerned with the ingredients, than with the shape. An unspecified meal is blended with water and rolled with a rolling pin (the shape of which is often called a "French rolling pin" in southwestern Michigan). With the emphasis on wheat flour elsewhere in Platina, it seems likely that wheat flour or some form of semolina may have been what was used. Archaeological evidence may offer more insight. Although not mentioned in the recipe, salt may be an ingredient (Platina mentions elsewhere that he often does not include salt because of its ecumenical acceptance).

As with Esicium ex Carne, nowhere in Platina's book does he mention specifically what a rich broth is, though many researchers have argued this very point. Presumably, the medieval cook would know, but the modern cook can only guess. In our opinion, we cannot assume that a rich broth today resembles one created in Platina's time period.

The key to shaping this pasta correctly is not so much in the width of the pasta, which Platina clearly states to be that of the cook's finger, but the length of the pasta. A fillet is a term often used to describe a ribbon that held one's hair, putting the length of the pasta at anywhere from 6-12 inches. Once properly shaped, Platina strongly suggests cooking it in boiling broth, but gives the alternative of plain boiling water with butter and salt. After cooking, Platina states that it should be placed in a pan with cheese, butter, sugar, and sweet spices.

Things to remember:

Many cooks and many cookbooks will happily tell you what you can and can't do with fresh pasta. While all of the suggestions we can give you in this recipe have worked for us in the past, your experiences may differ significantly depending on many factors in your region. For example, the semolina flour available in your area may radically affect the way your pasta takes shape and maintains its form.

General Rules for Cooking Fresh Pasta:

As a rough guide, count on approximately 6 quarts of boiling water and 1 tablespoon of salt or 6 quarts of boiling broth for each pound of pasta. The pasta can be cooked without the salt, but we believe it is vastly improved by the addition in the boiling water. Cook the pasta at a strong boil and stir it often. Fresh pasta can cook in a matter of seconds up to several minutes. The pasta is done when it is firm but not mushy, and without any raw flour taste. Immediately drain cooked pasta and toss it slightly to remove excess water. Do not rinse cooked, fresh pasta.

Additional notes on this recipe may be found at: The Coronation Feast of Dag IV & Elayna II


Milham, Mary Ella. Platina's On Right Pleasure and Good Health. University of North Carolina at Asheville: Pegasus Press, 1999. ISBN: 0866982086.

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