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4884RE: [Apicius] Pasta history: China

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  • Lucia Clark
    Dec 13, 2010
      Interesting, Justin

      As for who baked what first, does it matter? Let me put my anthropological
      hat on: We have some sort of grain, we have water. There is only so much we
      can do with it. We can let it ferment it, lending our evenings some pleasant
      and ritually useful aspect. We can bake it or pan grill it, and here we have
      some ready high energy food. Or, and here is the moment of genius, we can
      drop it in boiling water. The resulting mess is easy to eat, and it goes
      with absolutely everything else that is bubbling in the pot. This process
      has happened independently wherever grain was grown and marked the passage
      from hunting-gathering to crop growing. It changed the nature of life
      drastically. People settled in permanent villages near sources of water, and
      grain processing became an industry, opening the way to specialized jobs and
      bartering (I fix your spear if you give me a big jug of fermented barley).

      And now, for my boiled grain strips covered with some post-Colombian fruits
      simmered in the liquid produced from pressing small Mediterranean fruits..


      From: Apicius@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Apicius@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
      Sent: Monday, December 13, 2010 5:07 PM
      To: apicius@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [Apicius] Pasta history: China

      The topic of pasta and its origins comes up from time to time on this list,
      so I thought the following articles would be of interest to you:


      The more recent article, on the more recent pasta, bothers me a little in
      its comparison to Egypt:

      "Since the cakes were cooked in an oven-like hearth, the findings suggest
      that the Chinese may have been among the world's first bakers. Prior
      research determined the ancient Egyptians were also baking bread at around
      the same time, but this latest discovery indicates that individuals in
      northern China were skillful bakers who likely learned baking and other more
      complex cooking techniques much earlier."

      This sort of implies, without saying, that this discovery might indicate
      that the Chinese were baking before the Egyptians. But "2,500 years ago" is
      hardly early in Egyptian history!

      Anyway, the article covers some other food items, admittedly far, far away
      from the Roman sphere, but in about the right time period for us. I
      particularly like the "moon cakes."


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