The Noodle Days


A basic innovation in cereal foods, noodles, appeared in South Middle Europe, both in German speaking and Hungarian regions, in the 16th century. Noodle dishes spread relatively quickly over the social classes and then remained a significant, even structure-shaping part of the common diet far into the 20th century. Early Modern commentaries on noodles in this zone had already pointed to Italy as the territory from which the new food had actually been transmitted to these regions. The present study focuses on medieval and Renaissance Italy, and Early Modern Hungary respectively; it examines what exactly Italy had to offer in this particular field and what the reception was like, in terms of the example and the adoption, and of the transmission between two complex societies. These questions came about as an integral part of the examination of the development of Hungarian foodways over the long term. Italian and French publications of the last decade have qualitatively improved the insight into the Italian background.The transmission originally took place at an upper class social level while the place of noodle dishes in the arrangement of meals seems to have been changed significantly during the adoption and assimilation process. This study throws light on the dynamics of international transference of innovations and of national adoption and diffusion, leading to specific transformations, through different social strata.

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Kisbán, E., (1993) “The Noodle Days”, Ethnologia Europaea 23(1), 41-54. doi:


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Eszter Kisbán (Hungarian Academy of Sciences)



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