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Eating/More Lasagne

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147479.  Thu Feb 15, 2007 10:04 am Reply with quote

I've done a potential piece for the Telegraph column which would work well for a question for either Jo Brand and Alan Davies:


Q: What is Quite Interesting about Lasagna?

Lasagna was responsible for a diplomatic dispute between England and Italy.

In 2003, researchers studying the medieval cookbook The Forme of Cury in the British Museum, found a recipe for a lasagna style dish prepared by chefs for King Richard II in 1390.

Aptly title spokesman Maurice Bacon swiftly declared that lasagna was an English invention and defied ‘anyone to disprove it because it appeared in the first cookery book ever written.’

At first glance, Bacon’s claim seemed spot on.

The dish was called ‘loyseyns’, was pronounced ‘lasan’, and consisted of flat pasta sheets separated by cheese sauce.

The Italian Embassy in London immediately issued a denial, while patriotic Italian medieval historians mounted a defence by producing records from 1316 that mentioned a lasagna producer called Maria Borgogno.

Only the Italians could produce a politician named after the dish, the deliciously monikered Bob Lasagna.

While both countries can claim to have invented lasagna, no one knows where it was first made.

One alternative theory suggests the dish came from Ancient Greece where it was named after ‘lasanon’, a ‘chamber pot’.

Other fingers point to Ancient Rome, where the phrase ‘lasanon’ morphed to ‘lasanum’, which, more broadly, meant ‘cooking pots’.

Regardless of its provenance, lasagna has successfully established itself as one of the world’s most popular dishes.

In 2004, it replaced chicken tikka massala as the nation’s favourite ready meal. Sainsbury’s sold 13.9 million lasagne ready meals compared to a mere 7.4 million chicken tikka massalas. (GOOD GENERAL IGNORANCE TOO!)

It’s not just the British who love lasagna.

It is highly popular in the North East African country of Eritrea. Residents of the former Italian colony make the dish with berbere, a hot spice mixture.

Australia boasts one of the most exotic adaptations of the dish: kangaroo lasagne served with bush tomato chutney and lemon-myrtle.

Lasagna has gone to space and created a milestone when it do so. Florentine lasagna was selected as part of the first ever ‘kosher’ space menu.

The menu was created especially for the first Israeli astronaut, Colonel Ilan Ramon, who sadly died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster of 2003.

The American armed forces cookbook has not one but four recipes for lasagna. It includes a ‘standard’ lasagna, lasagna with ground turkey, lasagna (frozen), and lasagna with canned pizza sauce. While British cooks use flat pasta pieces in their lasagna, Americans use sheets that resemble corrugated iron. July is their ‘lasagne awareness month’. In the same month, Americans also celebrate ‘National Baked Bean Month’ and ‘National Hot Dog Month’.

The most important Lasagna to have ever lived is the late Lou Lasagna.

Dr Lou is considered to be one of the most important scientists of the 20th Century. His groundbreaking work on the nature of the placebo effect was voted one of the 27 most notable medical achievements dating back to Hippocrates. Lasagna, dubbed ‘Father of Clinical Pharmacology’ also invented ‘The Oath of Lasagna”, a contemporary version of the Hippocratic oath that is used in many American medical schools today.

Lasagna shouldn’t be mentioned at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. A "dodgy" lasagna stood accused of costing the team £14 million after several players who had eaten the pie fell ill before a clinch match against West Ham in 2006.The players, who were competing for a place in the lucrative Champions League, were later found to have contracted norovirus, otherwise known as 'winter vomiting bug' before arriving at the hotel which served the lasagna.

Tottenham’s malaise is not to be confused with ‘lasagna syndrome’, which is a computer enthusiast’s term for an infuriating excess of overlapping ‘browser windows’ which make a task almost impossible.

Leftover lasagnes become electric batteries. When the aluminium foil covering the lasagne touches a different metal - say the stainless steel tray holding your lasagna - and a conductor (in this case the tomato sauce), the three materials create an electric current.

Lasagna competitions measure weight rather than size. The largest recorded specimen weighed 8188 lb, 8oz, roughly the same size as a large White Rhino.




What Einstein Told His Cook, Robert L.Wolke, W.W.Norton

American forces:

New York Fire:

Space food:


Most popular dish


With thanks to Eggshaped

147492.  Thu Feb 15, 2007 10:29 am Reply with quote

Yes, that's good. I like that it outsells the Tikka Masala particularly. I should think the way into the topic might well be via the oath (What is (or who takes) the Lasagna Oath?)

SF notes to cover the historical debate re the dish and the placebo effect, both of which sound like fairly fertile areas. Then in the Gen Ig round of the same show we'd ask which is the best-selling ready meal, forfeit the Tikka Masala and bring the show round in a full circle to the lasagna where it began.

So we'll need something on the placebo effect in due course.

147493.  Thu Feb 15, 2007 10:36 am Reply with quote

That Lasagna Oath in full:


I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug.

I will not be ashamed to say "I know not," nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

Written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University, and used in many medical schools today.


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