Monday, January 31, 2011

Word of the Week - Macaroni

Yes, you read the title right. Today I'm bringing to you an enlightening treatise on the word "macaroni." =)

Now, in my house "macaroni" is synonymous with "the most common food to be found, because it's the only thing my kids are 100% guaranteed to eat." But as with all things we take for granted, there was once a day when it was new. Rare. Fashionable, even.

Back in the 18th century, Italian foods were just beginning to make their way into British society, and they were all the rage. One of the most loved was macaroni--and it was so stylish a dish that an entire club was formed around the it. The Macaroni Club was quickly known for their dedication to fashion and style . . . a dedication which soon went into dandy-ism (which is to say, over the top).

At that point, "macaroni" became an adjective meaning something like "a style befitting a dandy."

And so Yankee Doodle finally, FINALLY makes sense! Ever wonder why the dude in the song "stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni"? Well, there you go. He wasn't calling the feather pasta, which was what I thought at age 6 when I learned the song (yes, I thought we were singing about some delusional guy, LOL), he was calling the hat stylish. Even dandy.

Only took me 22 years to figure THAT one out! =)

So enjoy your macaroni, folks. And know that back in the day, it was not just kids' food.


  1. Thank you for explaining that song!!!

  2. LOL, quite welcome, Annette. I was ridiculously excited to have figured it out!

  3. Thank you! I'm 48 and didn't know that. I knew this Word a Day (well, a week is ok, too) was a good idea ;)

  4. I, too, like the "Word of the Week". I always like to brush up my English...

    I was startled by how you spelled macaroni. So I looked it up in Wikipedia and found out about the different spellings in English, German, and Italian. And it helped me understand that you are not eating the Makkaroni that I first associated (which are straight and long like spaghetti, I don't like them). By the way, I prefer penne rigate (short) and linguine (long).

  5. We no doubt have mixed up our pasta names thoroughly over here, Sascha. =) We'll have to visit you when you're settled in Sicily and get a lesson from the Italians. And hey, I even have an English-Sicilian travel dictionary already! It was for reference when I was writing a book with Sicilians, but I'd love to put it to more practical use.