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Bologna or Naples? Meat sauce divides the peninsula

At first it was a dessert

It happens like this, one day someone gets behind the stove and invents something new. Good, perhaps very good and it becomes history. It happens that, at the same time, in another area of ​​the world, someone else had the exact same idea. This is how diatribes arise, which historians and scholars will have to resolve over time and many centuries later.

Let's go in order and re-establish a timeline.

We are in Naples, or at least what we know as such today, in the mid-sixteenth century a certain Cristoforo Messisbugo, one of the most famous Renaissance chefs, talks about tagliatelle.

Now, the image that appears in the mind is a rich first course, perhaps enriched by a meat sauce. Error, it was a dessert prepared with flour, breadcrumbs and sugar combined with eggs and rose water. In short, a dessert in all respects. However, it is important to underline that the dish is incredibly reminiscent of the shape of macaroni and yes, we can attribute the paternity.

Alternative macaroni

We need to take a leap forward to revisit the dish in popular tradition. A sweet and sour side dish that accompanies the table of those who are more affluent: the capon is the perfect protagonist to accompany this curious "side dish".

The transition from pure dessert to inviting side dish occurs thanks to the addition of a condiment: butter or cheese. Some preferred to put the "side dish" in the oven, starting what today is called lasagna, even if the essence of meat sauce as we consider it today was missing.

Here comes: His Majesty the meat sauce

Vincenzo Corrado, a name that may mean little to most, but that neither his writing "il cuoco gallante" of 1773 reports a recipe that we all know, some more, some less, some with secret and handed down ingredients: the timbale of macaroni in crust . Here you are. Here appears for the first time the ragù recipe that we still use as a starting point today.

The description calls for ingredients such as: veal breast and sweetbreads, eggs, prawns, aromatic herbs and vegetables. The preparation begins with browning the butter, then moving on to preparing the broth and adding this or that aromatic herb. Almost less than the current preparation, except for the absence - in the modern era - of vinegar, lemon and anything that may be too acidic. The meat sauce is prepared to flavor other dishes or become a perfect filling, the encounter with meat was still far away.

Meat ragout and first love

Another text "L'Apicio moderni" by Francesco Leonardi mentions Maccaroni alla Napoletana, where a recipe similar - very similar indeed - to pasta with meat sauce seems to appear. The procedure involves seasoning the boiled macaroni with cheese, pepper and beef sauce (what remains from a stew, here is the signature recycling!), left to rest on the ashes and brought to the table.

It happens that the tomato is still not present, but it is in the second edition that the recipe undergoes an important variation: it is necessary to add the tomato sauce to the meat stew.

And voilà.

We can state with certainty that pasta seasoned with ragù sauce was born in Naples and its surroundings.

A romantic story made up of real and presumed recipe books, where the authors - the last one is anonymous - create specific recipes that today bring back memories of childhood, slipper included!

From Bologna with fervor!

Even the people of Bologna claim paternity of the meat sauce which they claim comes from cousins ​​beyond the Alps and has little to do with Campania and its surroundings. In reality it seems that the two dishes are born differently, on the one hand they meet and create the perfect partnership with pasta: macaroni please. On the other hand, it seems that the meat sauce has a life of its own and is different, in some not at all negligible details, in terms of taste and preparation.

It should be underlined that the first appearances date back to the 19th century, in short, much later than the Neapolitan variant.

But it doesn't matter, the substantial difference lies in the preparation which requires the meat to be "minced" and not stewed or cut into chunks.

This is why Bologna and its surroundings claim paternity! The starting recipe is different: the mystery has been revealed and the mystery has been solved.

Curiosity beyond the origin

If the mystery of paternity is solved with the analysis of the recipe, there are other curiosities and enigmas that revolve around meat sauce. As for what to do with leftover ragù, the solution is easy to find: meatballs, meatloaves and fillings, perhaps for homemade ravioli, just to stay in the Emilian tradition, however there are other fun curiosities that revolve around this unique dish of its kind and with twin birth. There are so many uses for ragù in the kitchen: in short, it is truly something exceptional!

A naive name

The name ragù comes from its French cousins. At the time it was a distant relative, something similar that has little to do with the intense and persistent flavor of today. The passing of the years allowed those who approached the recipe to add or remove, until they found themselves in the current version.

Ragù sauce on tortellini? Never!

It is an unwritten law, one of those traditions that everyone knows and that no one needs to write down, simply because it is not needed.

Ragù sauce is used for tagliatelle, stop.

At most for some other type of pasta, it must never, ever be added to tortellini or dishes that originate in specific places in Italy.

Attention is essential, variations on the theme are little accepted. Good, of course, but tortellini have their own handbook which must be respected when it comes to tradition. The basics.

The ragù patent? Fruit of brilliant minds!

Year: 1982. Place: Italian Academy of Cuisine, Bologna. A group of purists chooses to deposit the original Bolognese ragù recipe with the chamber of commerce, full of details and precise steps. The Neapolitan friends seem to have taken the gesture with extreme sympathy, stating: "It may be good, but the best is mum's." Touche.

Genuine meat ragout

Strengthened by the possibility of making various and possible modifications while maintaining the taste of tradition intact, Carne Genuina also offers a home-made product: Ragù Bovì, an essential name that encompasses simple processing.

The desire to bring healthy and genuine products to the table ranges across different areas and chooses to expand into the magical world of grandmother's recipes. A ready-made product that contains the affection that reigns supreme during childhood and inextricably binds grandparents to grandchildren. The slipper.