View Full Version : Did the Romans Eat Spaghetti ?
09-23-2002, 05:42 PM
I refer to Cecil's column http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_102.html which had a throw-away line about the Romans of Claudius's time eating pasta.
I thought spaghetti wasn't seriously taken up by the Romans until about 1000 years ago? Either by getting the idea from the Chinese or a parallel evolution at home?
Reading Tacitus I only see references to bread, not pasta.
09-23-2002, 06:24 PM
According to this site (http://www.ilovepasta.org/factsaboutpasta.html):
Contrary to popular belief, Marco Polo did not discover pasta. The ancient Italians made pasta much like we do today. Although Marco Polo wrote about eating Chinese pasta at the court of Kubla Khan, he probably didn't introduce pasta to Italy. In fact, there's evidence suggesting the Etruscans made pasta as early as 400 B.C. The evidence lies in a bas-relief carving in a cave about 30 miles north of Rome. The carving depicts instruments for making pasta - a rolling-out table, pastry wheel and flour bin. And further proof that Marco Polo didn't "discover" pasta is found in the will of Ponzio Baestone, a Genoan soldier who requested "bariscella peina de macarone" - a small basket of macaroni. His will is dated 1279, 16 years before Marco Polo returned from China.
09-23-2002, 07:30 PM
there's evidence suggesting the Etruscans made pasta as early as 400 B.C. The evidence lies in a bas-relief carving in a cave about 30 miles north of Rome. The carving depicts instruments for making pasta - a rolling-out table, pastry wheel and flour bin.
The equipment described sounds pretty handy for making bread.
Don't you have any harder (ha ha) evidence, such as fossilised macaroni, or even better a recipe using it? All my Roman recipe books use bread, wine, fish and oil. etc Check out http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~mjw/recipes/ethnic/ancient-rome/index.html for recipes from MARCUS GAVIUS APICIUS: DE RE COQUINARIA
09-23-2002, 08:18 PM
According to this page (http://www.professionalpasta.it/Dir_9/c_cron_2_1.htm), which seems pretty comprehensive, the ancient laganum (mentioned in De Re Coquinaria) was the ancestor of lasagne. However, my Latin dictionary defines laganum as a small "cake" of oil and flour.
I don't exactly feel like this has been yet settled by the cites given. I'm with JezzaOZ in thinking that the equipment as described in the cite by colibri seems to be just as good for making bread.
I'd also like to know what Cecil meant when he said that Cicero ate pasta, did he meant that there is a reference to pasta in Cicero's writings?
I think that the Italians probably did have pasta before Marco Polo, but I'd like stronger evidence than that provided.
08-15-2004, 03:01 PM
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