Mozzarella Sticks – Your favorite Italian snack didn’t even come from Italy The earliest iteration of the mozzarella stick is traditionally believed to date back to 15th-century France. Sacre bleu!
The text in question is called Le Ménagier de Paris (author unknown), a “women’s guide” to everything from maintaining a youthful glow to cooking delicious appetizers. Essentially, it’s the medieval equivalent of those magazines they sold in the 1950s to bored housewives. The book is written from the fictional voice of an elderly man telling his younger wife what she can do to make him happy. Yep.
The supposed original mozz stick was called a pipefarce, which admittedly rolls off the tongue better than mozzarella stick. What we have here is an age-old comfort food that stemmed from the (obviously true) idea that bread and cheese work well together:
“Take egg yolks and flour and salt, and a little wine, and beat together strongly, and cheese chopped in thin slices, and then roll the slices of cheese in the batter, and then fry in an iron skillet with oil in it. This can also be made using beef marrow.”
This is generally upheld as the one true starting point of the mozz stick (alas, the beef marrow was lost to time). Like King Arthur pulling Excalibur out of that enchanted stone, we were led to believe this medieval book yanked the mozzarella stick construct out of thin air (or a vat of marinara) and brought it into the world.
So did pizza joints invent the mozz stick? Probably not. Pizza’s popularity paved the marinara-laden road for mozzarella sticks’ rise in that it gave Americans a taste for the Italian cheese. But it’s much more likely that little Italian pizza shops merely adopted the mozz stick after it became a commodity in bars. After all, how many pizza joints have onion rings and wings on the menu? You can bet your last cannoli that no one cares if they’re traditionally “Italian” or not.
Ground zero for mozz sticks has everything to do with deep-frying and dives. And those little innocuous sticks even helped kickstart the fried food revolution.