Britain shocks Italians by claiming medieval lasagna recipe

LONDON -- After a hard day's jousting, what a medieval English knight needed was .... a plate of lasagna.

And he apparently could have it, according to British researchers who claim to have found a British recipe for lasagna dating from the 14th century -- long before Italian chefs came up with the delicious concoction of layers of pasta topped with cheese.

"This is the first recorded recipe for a lasagna-based dish," David Crompton, one of the researchers, said Tuesday. "The Italian dish has tomatoes, which were only discovered two centuries later in the New World."

Crompton didn't claim that the English invented lasagna, and other food historians have suggested the dish has a very ancient history.

Crompton and others who are organizing a medieval festival to be held at Berkeley Castle in southern England later this month found the recipe in "The Forme of Cury" at the British Museum, commissioned by King Richard II in 1390 and regarded as one of the world's oldest recipe books.

Predictably, the Italians are having none of it. "Whatever this old dish was called, it was not lasagna as we make it," The Daily Telegraph quoted an Italian Embassy spokes-man as saying.

The recipe in full:

"Take good broth and do in an erthen pot. Take flour of paynedemayn and make erof past with water and make erof thynne foyles as paper with a roller; drye it harde and see it in broth."

Next, "take chese ruayn grated and lay it in dishes with powder douce and lay eron loseyns isode as hoole as you myght and above powdour and chese; and so twyse or thryse & serue it forth."

Berkeley Castle's festival, featuring medieval jousting and a siege re-enactment, is on July 26 and 27.

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