This dish is a very simple pasta side that has a good flavor but pairs well with most other dishes. It is a rare to see in a French book as it is a distinctly Italian dish. The author even calls it Sicilian so you know that it is a foreign dish.
This is the original text…
51. Vermiseaux de cecille sont fais de paste ossi petis comme petis vers qui se trouvent es fromaiges; et les font les petittez fillez du pais ou temps d’esté pour toutes saisons seschier au solloil pour mieulx garder; il les fault bien eslire et laver, puis mettre essuer comme dit est du rys, et cuire en bon boullon gras bien ensaffrenné; et du fin fromage gratté jetté au dreschier par dessus.
And here is the translation by Scully…
Sicilian Vermicelli are made of dough as fine as small worms that are found in cheese. Young country girls make them in summertime for the whole year, drying them in the sun to make them last longer. They should be well culled and washed, then set to dry as was said for the Rice, and cooked in good fat bouillon with a good lot of saffron; when dishing up, fine grated cheese sprinkled on top.
This is how I made the dish…
The recipe describes pasta that is made with of dough and is “fine as small worms that are found in cheese”. It goes on to say that the pasta was made in large quantities, enough for a year, and then dried. So I chose to use a ready made vermicelli.
The ingredients for the dish are vermicelli, broth, saffron, grated parmesan cheese, and a small amount of lard (not in the picture). I chose parmesan cheese as the recipe calls for fine grated cheese. To my thinking the best cheese for grating finely is a hard cheese. parmesan can be traced back to Imperial Roman and since the dish is an Italian styled one it made sense.
I started by setting a few threads of saffron in a small amount of warm water to steep. I then put the chicken broth on to boil and added the saffron water. I added a spoon of lard to the broth because the recipe calls for a fat bouillon. Once the broth was boiling I added the vermicelli and cooked it until it was al dente. I drained the pasta and when it was plated, sprinkled it with the grated parmesan cheese.
Very tasty! This is a really simple pasta dish that is FULL of flavor. The pasta soaks up so much of the broth that you don’t need to put any sauce on it. I would change one thing though. Upon thinking about how it would have been eaten, specifically the lack of forks for eating, I do not think it was made as long the modern version of the pasta. Also the recipe described the pasta as “fine as small worms” so I take that to mean that the pasta was likely only a couple inches long at most. This would make sense as it would be easier to eat this dish with a spoon. So when I make this again I will likely use the vermicelli from the mexican isle of my local store as it is already in small pieces.