Oct 232010

Marco Polo: ‘You then come to another kingdom which is called Fansur.[1] The people are idolaters, and also call themselves subjects of the Great Khan; and understand, they are still on the same island that I have been telling you of. In this kingdom of Fansur grows the best Camphor in the world called Canfora Fansuri.[2] It is so fine that it sells for its weight in fine gold. The people have no wheat, but have rice which they eat with milk and flesh… And I will tell you another great marvel. They have a kind of trees that produce flour, and excellent flour it is for food. These trees are very tall and thick, but have a very thin bark, and inside the bark they are crammed with flour.[3] They use cleaned and ground flour, and make it into lasagna and several pasta dishes of which the said Marco Polo ate several times. He brought some back to Venice, and it is like barley bread, with the same flavour’.[4]

[1] An island in Indonesia.

[2] A rare flavouring and ingredient in medicine.

[3] The breadfruit tree (Artocarpus altilis) or perhaps the sago tree (Metroxylon laevis)?

[4] These last two sentences are not to be found in early manuscripts of Marco Polo’s travels. Rather they were first included in the first printed edition at the end of the sixteenth century.

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  2 Responses to “Marco Polo on Pasta”

  1. [...] first recorded instance of the Seaman Spaghetti legend. For Marco Polo’s original follow this link, for a later cinematic example follow this link. The original Macaroni Journal article is also [...]

  2. [...] have looked previously at Marco Polo’s writing, which shows emphatically that he did not bring pasta from China to Italy. We have looked too at [...]

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