History of Food

History of Food

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

July is Lasagna Awareness Month

“Lasagna” is derived from the Greek lasanon, which means “chamber pot.” The Romans borrowed the word to refer to cooking pots of a similar shape, and eventually the word came to be used to refer to the noodles which were traditionally layered in a lasanum, a Roman lasagna dish. Many people are unaware of the humble origins of the name for this popular Italian food, which means that you can trot it out at your next dinner party and look impressive.
There are three theories on the origin of lasagna, two of which denote an ancient Greek dish. The main theory is that lasagna comes from Greek laganon, a flat sheet of pasta dough cut into strips. The word agana is still used in Greek to mean a flat thin type of unleavened bread.

The other theory is that the word lasagna comes from the Greek lasana or lasanon meaning "trivet or stand for a pot", "chamber pot". The Romans borrowed the word as "lasanum", meaning "cooking pot" in Latin.[9] The Italians used the word to refer to the dish in which lasagna is made. Later the name of the food took on the name of the serving dish.
A third theory has been suggested that the dish is a development of the 14th century English recipe "Loseyn" as described in The Forme of Cury, a cook book in use during the reign of Richard II. This claim has been made due to the similarities in both the method described in building the dish and the two names. However this theory remains contentious as it can be argued that tomatoes are a fundamental ingredient of Lasagna. These did not arrive in Europe until after Columbus reached America in 1492 (The earliest discussion of the tomato in European literature appeared in an herbal written in 1544 by Pietro Andrea Mattioli, while the earliest discovered cookbook with tomato recipes was published in Naples in 1692, though the author had apparently obtained these recipes from Spanish sources.

Lasagna, one of the most celebrated of the Italian food staples, has a long and luxorious history. The term "lasagna" comes from the Greek word, "lasagnum," meaning dish or bowl. The ancient Greeks used baking dishes of that name, which they eventually transferred to the Romans. The Romans, who ended up using the same style of dish, also developed a type of food which they used the term "lasagnum" for: it was served in said dish, with layers of a pasta-like food with other fillings in-between. With the extent of the Roman empire, this new "lasagnum" dish spread all across Europe, eventually reaching Britain, where it was published in the very first cookbook.

After remaining dormant for many decades, the early form of lasagna once again surfaced. The early Italians changed the name from "lasagnum," to "lasagna," which is the current form. Over the years, the word "lasagna" began to change definitions; the word previously referred to the serving dish it was baked in, but began to simply mean the delicious pasta meal in the dish itself. In modern cooking terms, it now means layers of thin pasta, with meat, cheese, and tomato sauce squeezed in between. Lasagna sure has come a long way.   Now Lasagna has become a staple comfort food globally.


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