The Controversy of Spaghetti Bolognese: Uncovering the Truth About its Origin

Everybody knows it, everybody around the world eats it but here in Bologna a few restaurants offer it and it's better to stay away from them.

Spaghetti bolognese (or bolognaise sauce) is probably the most popular not-bolognese pasta.

So I put it on trial, to discover the origins of this dish and to determine if it has the right to exist.
The charges: it's not from Bologna, Bolognesi don't eat it!
I can bet my Radiohead's vinyl collection that you can't find anyone from Bologna, or even an Italian, that eats spaghetti with ragù (the so-called Bolognaise sauce).

Bologna is the home of egg pasta, and we only eat tagliatelle with ragù (we even have the apostles of tagliatella, an association with the aim to promote the 'queen of pasta').

But why tagliatelle and not spaghetti? What is wrong with it?

Nothing really.
But you have to imagine Bologna, less than 100 years ago, surrounded by countryside.

Can you see all the big companies in the packaging valley and motorcycles producers like Ducati or Lamborghini?
There were just farms and fields.

Most of Bolognese families worked there as farmers or breeders so they needed rich and nourishing meals. The chickens and the eggs didn't lack so here's where our love for egg pasta was born.

Spaghetti, and in general all dried pasta, has all a different story and need something very important that Bologna doesn't have much (but the south of Italy have): the sun and the wind. Which the South if Italy has instead.

Take Gragnano for example.
​It's a small village near Naples famous for the quality of its water since 1500. Pasta was put to dry directly on the streets and Gragnano became one of the most famous cities for the production of wheat pasta.

Your honor, here in Bologna we eat spaghetti, we do love it, but in different recipes taken from the south of Italy like carbonara and Amatriciana from Rome or norma from Sicily.

​Our cuisine is different, and has other traditions that we don't drop so we ask that spaghetti bolognese are cut into small pieces and thrown into the broth!
The defense: a lot of people around the world eat and love Spaghetti Bolognese
Your honor, the accusation was really hard and made its point.
But even if Bologna denies it, people around the globe eat spaghetti bolognese so it absolutely exists and is worth living.

For example, when the popular British chef Rick Stein visited Bologna he immediately asked to eat this dish.

​My friend sfogline, the artisans of fresh egg pasta one you can meet during our food tours in Bologna, explained to him the thesis of the accusation: it’s not a traditional bolognese dish but still in the past Bologna’s people ate spaghetti with onion and tuna.

Also Bologna has the oldest university in the world with La Sorbonne in Paris and what’s the most popular dish among students?

The one that saves a lot of lunches after lessons or at 2 pm after a party?

​Yes, spaghetti.
With a tin of tuna usually, but even with ragù if necessary.

Your honor, I bet you were a student too, so don’t be too hard.
​Spaghetti bolognese also brings the name of Bologna around the world like “Bologna's sausage” (even if we call it mortadella and it’s sacred for us) and help to make Bologna the city of food.
The judgment
Based on the proof that we got we can certainly say that spaghetti bolognese is not a bolognese dish.

But their efforts in bringing the name of Bologna famous worldwide are important: people can be curious and maybe discover where is Bologna and why it is worth to be visited.

I'll never eat spaghetti bolognese and I don't recommend restaurants that serve it, but let it live its life in peace and don't be too hard. It's only pasta by the way.

Any objections from the jury?
What do you think about this controversial dish?

​The judge will be happy to review his verdict.

[photos: Rossella Neiadin, Cathy Danh]

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