04 July 2014

A Great Reason to Celebrate

Independence Day blog art by Third Shift Media. Copyright 2014.
You probably know that Thomas Jefferson was a founding father of the United States, principal author of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, third American president, and minister to France in the late 1780s.

But did you know that Jefferson made his most valuable contribution to the world when he returned to the U.S. from France in 1789?

It seems that while in Europe, Jefferson developed quite a gourmet palette. He was so enamored with pasta noodles, that he brought the first "Maccaroni" maker back with him to America. He didn't invent the commercial production of pasta -- that credit goes to a Frenchman from Brooklyn, New York -- but he did, in fact, submit a Patent Application for a pasta maker of his own design. Below is a reprint of the patent art including his submission notes. I've transcribed the notes for easier reading. I had to smile at his description of the extruder plates. He was a genius!! 

Today, July 4th, while Americans celebrate the birth of the country for which Jefferson is a fundamental figure, his contribution of a "Maccaroni" machine, is cause for polyclayers to celebrate all over the world. I suggest a moment of silence or quiet gesture of thanks for a man whose good taste continues to make life better for all of us.

Alphabetical letters are guides to drawing. See full-size image and credits:
The best Maccaroni in Italy is made with a particular sort of flour called Semola, in Naples: but in almost every shop a different sort of flour is commonly used; for, provided the flour be of a good quality, not ground extremely fine, it will always do very well. A paste is made with flour, water and less yeast than is used for making bread. This paste is then put, by little at a time, vir. about 5 or 6th each time into a round iron box ABC. The under part of which is perforated with holes, through which the paste when pressed by the screw DEF, comes out, and forms the Maccaroni g.g.g. which, when sufficiently  long, are cut & spread to dry. The screw is turned by a lever inserted into the hole K, of which there are 4 or 6, it is evident that on turning the screw one way, the cylindrical part E which fits the iron box or mortar perfectly well, must press upon the paste and must force it out of the holes. ILM is a long wooden frame, properly fastened to the wall, floor & ceiling of the room. N.O. is a figure, on a larger scale, of some of the holes in the iron plate, where all the black is solid, and the rest open. The real plate has a great many holes, and is screwed to the box or mortar: or rather there is a set of plates which may be changed at will, with holes of different shapes & sizes for the different sorts of Maccaroni.