Monday, May 30, 2011
Guest Blogger- Dan Rahim
Copyright 2011 Art of Living, PrimaMedia,Inc.
Marco Polo is probably best known today as a game played in the swimming pool. But behind the game lies a great history of discovery and adventure. Marco Polo traveled across Europe through Asia and went all the way into china for the chance to discover riches and new worlds.
With all these travels and tales of the orient Marco Polo became the most famous person in Europe in the 13th century. At a mere 24 years, he traveled to discover and reorient Europe with the rest of the world. This was not only because he had this incredible journey but also because he was the first person to publish a book about it and able to disseminate the knowledge across Europe.
In fact Marco Polo’s impact was so great it influenced European explorers for years to come. The most famous of which was Christopher Columbus who is credited for the European discovery of the Americas. In fact due to reading Marco Polo’s book Columbus believed that the New World was either India or the eastern Isles of Sumatra or Java.
Marco Polo did in fact did bring back many different thing back from his trip. Most are documented in his book Il Milone. The problem with documenting this introduction is that there are hundreds of versions of this book and no definitive version. In the era before the printing press it is hard to distinguish which version is most authentic. Therefore attributing anything to Marco Polo is quite dubious and there are several critics of his contributions.
Marco Polo is most famous for his introduction of the idea of ice cream. The Chinese had been making ice cream for nearly four thousand years before Marco Polo arrived. The Chinese were able to make this sweet, creamy drop of heaven thanks to the use of large pots of ice and salt. Many western scholars dispute this claiming that ice cream in the West has purely western origin, but it’s pretty silly to argue that the idea or concepts of ice cream had no influence from the Chinese or Marco Polo’s book. Regardless, there is no definitive proof one way or another on the origins of ice cream.
But Ice Cream was not Marco Polo’s most controversial contribution. In fact the idea that spaghetti noodles came from the orient is highly debated. Some coarse forms of pasta had existed since Roman times and perhaps even before. But pasta which is the main staple of Italian food is completely different. Many claim that modern Spaghetti was brought to Italy thanks to Marco Polo’s introduction to the Chinese through Kublai Khan. This claim has come under criticism due to the fact there are documents that describe “long pasta” before Marco Polo was born. This does not prove spaghetti is a western invention as there have been traders between east and west before Marco Polo, but it casts into doubt whether Marco had truly brought spaghetti to Italy.