Macaroni is a variety of moderately extended, machine-made, dry
pasta made with durum wheat. Macaroni noodles do not contain eggs,
and are normally cut in short, hollow shapes; however, the term
refers not to the shape of the pasta, but to the kind of dough from
which the noodle is made. Although home machines exist that can make
macaroni shapes, macaroni is usually made commercially by
Macaroni is a borrowing of the Italian maccheroni (plural of
maccherone; "squashed"). There are a few theories on its etymology;
some think it comes from Italian ammaccare, "to bruise or crush"
(referring to the crushing of the wheat to make the noodles), which
comes, in turn, from Latin macerare, meaning 1) to soak in liquid,
to soften, or 2) to torment, to mortify, to distress (the term also
giving the English macerate), while for others it might be the Arabs
who invented macaroni in the Middle Ages.
Nevertheless, the academic consensus supports that the word comes
from Greek μακαρία (makaria), a kind of barley broth which was
served to commemorate the dead, which in turn comes from μάκαρες (makares),
"blessed dead", and that from μακάριος (makarios), collateral of
μάκαρ (makar), meaning "blessed, happy".
Italian linguist G. Alessio argues that the word can have two
origins: the first from the Medieval Greek μακαρώνεια (makarōneia)
"dirge" (stated in sec. XIII by James of Bulgaria), which would be
passed to mean "funeral meal" and then "food to serve" during this
office (see today's μαχαρωνιά - macharōnia in Eastern Thrace, in the
sense of "rice-based dish served at the funeral"), in which case the
term would be composed of the double root of μακάριος "blessed" and
αἰωνίος (aiōnios), "eternally", and the second from the Greek
μακαρία "barley broth", which would have added the suffix -one.
Macaroni is not necessarily associated with the "elbow" shape
commonly found in American-style macaroni and cheese. "Elbow
macaroni" is also used in a milk pudding, similar to other milk
puddings (such as rice pudding) called macaroni pudding, and is also
popular among children for homemade arts and crafts projects.
In areas with large Chinese populations open to Western cultural
influence, such as Hong Kong, Macao, Malaysia and Singapore, the
local Chinese have adopted macaroni as an ingredient for
Chinese-style Western cuisine. In Hong Kong's cha chaan tengs
("Chinese diner") and Southeast Asia's kopi tiams ("coffee shop"),
macaroni is cooked in water and then washed of starch, and served in
clear broth with ham or frankfurter sausages, peas, black mushrooms,
and optionally eggs, reminiscent of noodle soup dishes. This is
often a course for breakfast or light lunch fare.