Saturday, November 1, 2014

Historical Food Fortnightly

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #12: 

"If They'd Had It..."

The Challenge: If They'd Had It...

The Recipe:
Macaroni (Macaroni and Cheese)

The recipe first appears in  The Virginia Housewife in 1824. Thomas Jefferson
brought the recipe back from France and helped to popularize macaroni and cheese by serving it to dinner guests during his presidency. Mary Randolph's brother was Thomas Jefferson's son-in-law.

Mary Randolph, The Virginia Housewife: or, Methodical Cook (1824)
The Date/Year and Region: 1824, Virginia

How Did You Make It:I took a short cut and used boxed macaroni. Not having noodles, I used traditional modern elbows. I grated Italian Parmasean and Peccorino Romano and followed the directions for half the dish. The other half I cheated and used modern shredded cheddar. Then I baked it in the oven at 450 degrees forever.

Time to Complete:
Not sure because apparently Parmesan doesn't melt! 
Total Cost:
We had the ingredients on hand but I know the cheese is expensive. This is not the kind in the green can you find at any cheap grocery store. This is real imported cheese.

How Successful Was It?:
Not very. Parmasean doesn't melt and I overcooked the macaroni. Even my dad didn't eat it beyond the original taste. 


How Accurate Is It?: 
 The cheese was accurate but I think spaghetti is more traditional in Italy and I used an electric oven. I also put cheddar on half the macaroni. That part tasted fine.

I also tried to make Roman French Toast.   

Another sweet dish
Break [slice] fine white bread, crust removed, into rather large pieces which soak in milk [and beaten eggs] Fry in oil, cover with honey and serve." ---Apicius Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome, edited and translated by Joseph Dommers Vehling , recipe 296 [Dover Publications:New York] 1977 (p. 172) 

I used a boule roll from a local bakery. This is obviously not the kind of white bread the Romans had because it's impossible to remove the crust. I soaked in a mixture of egg and milk and fried in butter, not liking olive oil or knowing what other oils the Romans might have had. Then I hit a snag when I couldn't get my brand new bottle of  local honey open! I used the last drop of my old bottle of local honey. It tasted pretty good and was mostly true to the original recipe. 

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