The Macaronies aren’t food, but they’re great at parties!
Pretty much everyone knows that MACARONI started as food in Italy, even though probably not everyone knows that it started as a different kind of food in Greece, something called MAKARIA, but what I didn’t know is that MACARONI is not just food. MACARONI is also people. So what kind of people are THE MACARONIES? Well, judge for yourselves. Apparently, in 1760 “a set of flashy men” (not my words; this is how the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable phrases it) travelled to Italy and when they returned from Italy they introduced the new-fangled Italian food, MACARONI, to their social clubs and founded The Macaroni Club. For their love of MACARONI, these “flashy men” became known as the MACARONIES. They went on to be known as “exquisite fops”, which means they paid great attention to what they wore and how they looked. And some of them were “vicious, insolent, fond of gambling, drinking and dueling”, says the dictionary.
It sounds to me that the Macaronies – the people – managed, in a very short time, to give a bad reputation to the macaroni – the tasty Italian pasta. I can’t imagine many English people being very fond of macaroni in the 18th century.
Anyway, macaroni lovers, relax, because here in the US, macaroni, the tasty Italian pasta, has a great reputation of being a very tasty dish, and that’s thanks to Thomas Jefferson who, rumors have it, invented macaroni and cheese. And so the reputation of the macaroni as a culinary delight has been reinstated thanks to the cheese.