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Mangiare e bere (ep.1) - Bolo...GNese

Updated: Mar 20, 2021

It's something you know, you might even love it, but still, not completely right.

Traditional food is notoriously important to Italians but what happens when these traditions become part of other cultures? Is Hawaiian pizza acceptable? Should you put 'parmigiano' on top of your 'pasta allo scoglio'? and ketchup on your spaghetti? This virtual column aims to debunk some myths about Italian food, and most importantly it will help you to learn more about the Italian language and culture! Today we are going to look at the 'bolognese'. For some it is a sauce, for others a dish, but before getting into that, how do you call it? Here's a short video that will make a bit of clarity on that point :

Now, you know how to say 'boloGNese' what else can we learn about it?


First of all, its name comes from an Italian City called 'Bologna', and its origins are rooted in the story of this place. When we talk about the 'bolognese' we are actually referring to a specific way of cooking the 'ragù' a slow-cooked meat sauce made out of a combination of different 'tagli' of meats (both beef and pork) and vegetables (tomato based). The 'ragù', as we know it today, is based on a centenary recipe and finds its origins in both the Emilian (From Emilia-Romagna) and Neapolitan cousin. The innovation of the later Emilian recipe included the use of the minced meat along with the broth (typical of the Neapolitan version) to achieve the result that we know today.

But...why spaghetti?

In Bologna, the sauce is still primarily presented with the 'tagliatelle', an egg-based type of pasta traditional of the area; but then, why around the world people eat spaghetti with it?

Back in the early 20th Century, almost every Italian chef could to cook an avarage 'ragù alla bolognese', and its recipe was fairly known across the Italian community, but the ability to make 'tagliatelle' from scratch was much less common. An easy alternative was found in the 'spaghetti', already worldwide commercialised and known by the American public. In 1923, 'spaghetti bolognese' could already be found in the menu of the New York's Commodore Hotel, and by the same time, this option was presented in Italy as a meal for the army. The real moment of glory for this dish arrived in the 60s when Heinz launched the 'HEINZ Spaghetti Bolognese' claiming an authetic Italian 'meaty goodness and sunny flavour'. Even though this tinned food revolution never landed to Italy, and it is considered still today as a 'gastronomic aberration' from many, it brought the 'bolognese' to wolrdwide fame.

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