Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pasta and Fops

Most of us are familiar with the song Yankee Doodle and it's enigmatic reference to macaroni. As a child I took in stride the idea that a man could stick a feather in his hat and consider it a piece of pasta. Children are accepting like that. Of course when I got older I found out about a different kind of Macaroni, the fashionable male of late 18th century England.

Even understanding now that the song references a ridiculed trend, it begs the question; is there an etymological link between the pasta and the fashion? The Italian word Maccherone means "a boorish fool", and was brought back to England by young men who had completed their traditional tour of the continent. Applied to things found ridiculous it came to refer to a specific kind of person. Though it is not known for sure what the etymological root is for the type of pasta, it could have evolved from one of several latin roots; macerare, to soak, soften, torture, or ammaccare, to bruise. Perhaps it is only that the shape of the food is a funny one.

What do you think?