Early Macaronis and Cheese While it was once thought that Marco Polo discovered macaroni in China and brought it back to Europe in 1274, modern scholars believe the true origin lies somewhere in Sicily, where it is mentioned in manuscripts as early as 1188. However it arrived, macaroni (and pasta in general) soon became a staple in the Western diet. What, though, of the famous line in Yankee Doodle, “stuck a feather in his cap and called it Macaroni”. Did it actually resemble a noodle, as so many children imagine? Not in the mid-1700’s. “The Macaroni Club” consisted of young, wealthy British gentlemen who traveled to France and Italy and adopted the ostentatious and flamboyant fashions popular in those countries during the eighteenth century. The Macaronis, not members of a true club but rather a new generation of continental society, were often ridiculed by the British establishment. The Macaroni moniker was a tongue-in-cheek reference to their import of foreign cuisine as well as fashion. Macaronis wore form-fitting trousers and short waistcoats with ruffles and braiding, and sported superfluities such as tasseled walking sticks, spy glasses, and nosegays. They wore elaborate toupees and wigs topped by tiny tricorn hats that were definitely form over function. These trends may have been en vogue at the Court of Versailles, but they didn’t go over well back home with the more staid Brits, who perceived the Macaronis’ style as extreme, effeminate, and silly. What’s worse than a pretentious British fop? How about a Yankee (more…)
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