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Macaroni with breadcrumbs and the story of macaroni eaters

Maccheroni al forno con pangrattato

This recipe for macaroni with breadcrumbs is for macaroni eaters.

Who is the mangiamaccheroni (macaroni eater)?
In 1500 were Sicilians, in 1600 were Neapolitans.
Even Artusi was called mangiamaccheroni.

Then, from the end of the 19th century, the term indicated Italians who had immigrated abroad.

And today? Today we are all mangiamaccheroni, in Italy and abroad.
In the world, pasta is one of the most consumed foods, together with rice and pizza.

Baked macaroni with béchamel and breadcrumbs

Italians and Pasta

Between the end of the 1800s and the beginning of the 1900s, Italians who emigrated abroad were called mangiamaccheroni. The term, which indicated an element of Italian gastronomic identity, had scornful value.

In the great melting pot created by the displacement of millions of people who left Europe for the American continent, each group identified the others, especially if they were competing for survival, with a nickname that usually corresponded to the main ingredient of the diet.

There were the potato-eaters, the sauerkraut-eaters, and the macaroni-eaters.

Even today, everywhere in the world, there is an Italian who cooks a dish of pasta telling a recipe that mixes ingredients and memories.

Especially for Italians who live abroad or far from home, food is never just nourishment but a way to remember the family and who cooked that dish.

Italians, over the centuries, have shown that they can live anywhere without losing their identity but absorbing and integrating other cultures. Until the formation of a new identity and new models of Italianness. Even at the table.

One of the most famous examples is the recipe for spaghetti alla Bolognese with Bolognese meat sauce. A dish that does not exist in Bologna. Spaghetti, a smooth pasta that does not capture the ragout, tells how abroad, often, to cook Italian, it is necessary to adapt to the ingredients found.

HERE you find the history of American spaghetti Bolognese and the recipe for real spaghetti Bolognese.

Sicilians mangiamaccheroni

Before the Italian emigrants, ambassadors of Italy abroad, and the Neapolitans, the Sicilians were called mangiamaccheroni.

Greeks and Romans already knew pasta. With the expansion of the Arabs in the western Mediterranean began its spreading.

Sicily was influenced and dominated by Greeks, Romans, and Arabs. Like wrote el-Idrisi, a collaborator of the Norman king Ruggero II, in the XII century in Trabia, was founded the first Sicilian industry of pasta.

On the island, there was a favorable climate for wheat. And, unlike fresh pasta, dry pasta was easily storable and transportable. Finally, the sea helped exports.

Homemade breadcrumbs

Neapolitans, from leaf-eaters to mangiaiamaccheroni

In Naples, until the beginning of the 1600s, pasta was expensive.

Neapolitans were called leaf eaters for the habit of eating minced meat wrapped in cabbage leaves. An affordable dish.

Around 1630 the kingdom of Naples was hit by a severe famine which forced a radical change in the diet. The meat was too expensive for the people.

In the meantime, in the Neapolitan city were diffused two machines fundamental for the expansion of the pasta industry: the granola (mechanical kneading machine) and the press (which gives shape to pasta).

Thanks to the new machinery, it was therefore possible for high producing of pasta to be put on the market at a low price to contrast the famine. Pasta and cheese took the place of meat and cabbage. Neapolitans were the new pasta eaters.

With the beginning of the migratory waves in Europe towards overseas, by extension, macaroni eaters began to indicate the Italians.

Pellegrino Artusi, a macaroni eater

In 1850, the Italian gastronome had lunch in the trattoria Tre Re in Bologna with some university students.

In the group was Felice Orsini, an intellectual and revolutionary from Romagna who, in 1858, attempted the life of French Emperor Napoleon III.

Orsini only talked about revolution and attempts. Artusi, more shrewd, knew that trattorias were full of spies. To avoid taking part in the conversation, he concentrated on his plate of macaroni.

Orsini was offended by the behavior of the gastronome and, later, when talking to mutual friends, referring to Artusi, he always asked, “How is he eating macaroni?”

Macaroni with breadcrumbs

Artusi’s recipe N. 235 requires little time and few ingredients.

You’ll need to cook the macaroni al dente, prepare a light béchamel sauce and top the macaroni with the sauce, some Parmesan cheese, and breadcrumbs before baking in the oven.

Anytime you have guests, remember this recipe. It is made with just a few cupboard ingredients but is tasty beyond expectations.

With baked pasta, you can’t go wrong.
Vegetarian recipe. And very cheap. Certainly comfortable.

Buona cucina, Monica

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Baked macaroni with breadcrumbs

Macaroni with breadcrumbs recipe

serves 4
List of the ingredients

320 g of macaroni
100 ml of milk
100 g of butter
60 g of grated Parmesan cheese + 1 tablespoon for dusting the pasta
40 g of breadcrumbs + 3 tablespoons to dust the pasta
salt, olive oil or butter to taste

for the béchamel sauce
200 ml milk
15 g of flour
60 g of butter
salt, nutmeg to taste


Cook the macaroni in salted water and drain while still al dente.

Stir in a little olive oil to prevent them from sticking together, and set aside.

Prepare a slow béchamel sauce with 200 ml of milk.
Melt the butter and remove the pan from the stove.
Add a pinch of salt and nutmeg and the flour. Stir vigorously to dissolve any lumps. Now add the milk, a little at a time, stirring.
Place the pan over moderate heat and stir until the spoon meets resistance.

Pour the macaroni into a bowl and dress with the béchamel sauce.

Then add milk, butter, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, and a pinch of salt.

Flip into a baking dish previously greased with oil or butter.

Mix one tablespoon of Parmesan cheese with two breadcrumbs and sprinkle the surface evenly. If you want, and I would like it, add a few flakes of butter or a drizzle of olive oil.

Bake macaroni in the hot oven at 190C degrees for 10-15 minutes.
The time depends on how crispy you want the surface to be.

Baked macaroni with breadcrumbs

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