Tracta (dough)

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Tracta, tractum (Ancient Greek: τρακτὸς, τρακτόν), also called laganon, laganum, or lagana (Greek: λάγανον) was a kind of drawn out or rolled-out pastry dough in Roman[1] and Greek cuisines.

What exactly it was is unclear:[2] "Latin tracta... appears to be a kind of pastry. It is hard to be sure, because its making is never described fully";[3] and it may have meant different things at different periods.[3] Laganon/laganum was at different periods an unleavened bread, a pancake, or later, perhaps a sort of pasta.[4]

Tracta is mentioned in the Apicius as a thickener for liquids. Vehling's translation of Apicius glosses it as "a piece of pastry, a round bread or roll in this case, stale, best suited for this purpose."[5] Perry compares it to a "ship's biscuit".[6]

It is also mentioned in Cato the Elder's recipe for placenta cake, layered with cheese.[7]

Athenaeus's Deipnosophistae mentions a kind of cake called καπυρίδια, "known as τράκτα", which uses a bread dough, but is baked differently.[8]

Some writers connect it to modern Italian lasagne,[9] of which it is the etymon,[10] but most authors deny that it was pasta.[6][11]

There is a modern Greek leavened flatbread called lagana, but it is not clear when the name was first applied to a leavened bread.


  1. ^ τρακτὸς, τρακτόν "dough drawn out or rolled for pastry," Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  2. ^ Charles Perry, "What was tracta?", Petits Propos Culinaires 12:37-9 (1982) and a note in 14
  3. ^ a b Andrew Dalby, Food in the Ancient World from A to Z, ISBN 1135954224, s.v. 'Pastry', p. 251
  4. ^ Andrew Dalby, Food in the Ancient World from A to Z, ISBN 1135954224, s.v. 'Pasta', p. 251
  5. ^ Joseph Dommers Vehling, editor and translator, Cookery and dining in imperial Rome (1936, reprinted 1977), p. 127
  6. ^ a b Charles Perry, "Old Non-Pasta", Los Angeles Times March 05, 1997
  7. ^ Cato the Elder. "De Agricultura"., section 76
  8. ^ Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 3:79
  9. ^ Serventi, Silvano; Sabban, Françoise (Aug 13, 2013). Pasta: The Story of a Universal Food. Columbia University Press. pp. 15–18.
  10. ^ Vocabolario Etimologico Pianigiani, 1907, s.v. lasagna
  11. ^ Clifford A. Wright, "The History of Macaroni" [1]