“YANKEE DOODLE WENT TO TOWN, RIDING ON A PONY, STUCK A FEATHER IN HIS HAT, AND CALLED IT . . . .”
In both Europe and America, the word “maccaroni” represented ALL pasta, not just the short curved tubes we know today.
But who popularized pasta dishes in America? This might surprise you, but it may have been none other than Thomas Jefferson. While he was the U.S. Minister to France from 1785 to 1789, Jefferson travelled extensively throughout France and northern Italy. He became enamored with pasta in all its forms. He learned how to make “maccaroni,” and also Parmesan cheese. Jefferson may have become America’s father of “mac and cheese” to the delight of millions of today’s children.
Here, in his own words is Jefferson’s instructions on how to use his “Maccaroni Machine” (pictured below):
“This paste is then put, by a little at a time, into a round iron box (ABC). The under part of which is perforated with holes, through which the paste, when pressed by the screw (DEF), comes out, and forms the Maccaroni (ggg) which, when sufficiently long, are cut & spread to dry, the screw is turned by a lever inserted into the hole (K), of which there are 4 or 6. It is evident that on turning the screw one way, the cylindrical part F, which fits the iron box or mortar perfect well, must press upon the paste and must force it out of the holes. There is a set of plates which may be changed at will, with holes of different shapes & sizes for the different sorts of Maccaroni.” (Thomas Jefferson)
Notwithstanding the above critique, Thomas Jefferson is credited with popularizing pasta in the early history of America.
Thanks to monticello.org (Jefferson’s Monticello) and umuc.edu (University of Maryland, Italian Studies).