Macaroni, spaghetti, vermicelli, and other pastes are to Italians what our various kinds of bread are to us. The best macaroni is made from semolina, the purified middlings of durum or macaroni wheat, which is exceedingly hard and glutinous. Bread flour also may be made from durum wheat. To make macaroni and similar pastes, a stiff mixture of semolina and hot water is placed in an iron cylinder, the end of which is closed by a disk pierced with holes. A piston forces the paste out through these in threads, rods, or tubes, according to the shapes of the openings. When dry, the threads form vermicelli (Italian for little worms), the rods, spaghetti (Italian for cords), and the tubes, macaroni (Italian for crushed). Macaroni is dried by hanging over wooden rods in the open air or in ovens.

American macaroni was formerly made from the flour of ordinary wheat and so was of poor quality. More and more is now made every year from semolina.

How To Know Good Macaroni

Good macaroni is yellowish in color and rough in texture. It breaks cleanly without splitting, in boiling swells to at least double its bulk, and neither becomes pasty nor loses its tubular shape.

Macaroni contains so much protein that it is almost equal to meat as a food, especially if cooked with cheese.

Spaghetti may be prepared in any way suitable for macaroni, but is usually served with Tomato Sauce.

Vermicelli is used only in soups. Noodles, to serve in soup, are made in various shapes from a paste of flour, water, and eggs.

To Grate Cheese

Use Parmesan, or any cheese stale enough to be dry. Grate on a coarse grater, and do not pack the grated cheese in measuring it.

To Prepare Buttered Crumbs For Scalloped Dishes

Mix dried crumbs (p. 134) with melted butter, using one-fourth of a cupful of butter to one cupful of crumbs.

Tomato Sauce

(for Spaghetti, Macaroni, or Boiled Rice)

Tomato (canned or stewed), 1 1/2 c.

Flour, 2 tb.

Onion (chopped), 1 t..

Salt, 1/2 t.

Butter, 2 tb.

Pepper, 1/8 t.

Cook the onion and tomato slowly fifteen minutes. Mix butter and flour together. Strain the tomato and add it to the butter and flour. Cook all together, stirring, until it boils; then add salt and pepper.

Spaghetti With Tomato Sauce

Spaghetti, 1/3 of a box.

Salt, 1 tb.

Boiling water, 2 qt.

Tomato sauce.

Hold the sticks of spaghetti in a bunch, and dip the ends into the boiling salted water. As they soften and bend, lower them into the water, letting them coil around in the saucepan. The spaghetti may thus be cooked without breaking. Boil for twenty minutes, or until soft, drain, rinse with cold water (to remove starch that might make it sticky), and mix with the tomato sauce.

Sprinkle with grated cheese, to make Spaghetti Italian Style.

Baked Macaroni With Cheese

Macaroni broken in one-inch pieces, 3/4 c.

Grated cheese, 1/4 to 1/2 c.

White sauce (made from 2 tb. of butter, 1 1/2 tb. of flour, 1 c. of milk, and 1/2 t. of salt).

Boiling water, 2 qt.

Salt, 1 tb.

Buttered crumbs, 3/4 c.

Boil the macaroni in the salted water for twenty minutes, or until soft. Drain in a strainer, and rinse with cold water.

Put a layer of macaroni in a buttered baking-dish, sprinkle with cheese; repeat until all the cheese and macaroni have been used; pour the white sauce over the top. Cover with buttered crumbs, and bake until these are brown. Or use a thick layer of cheese on top, and no crumbs.