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History of Italian Lasagne between Napoli and Bologna

Blog Italian tradition Italian traditional meal Pasta

Written by Valentino Addevico

Today’s blog is about one of the most typical dishes of a classic Italian Sunday, the one with the family, this is a dish that represents the family and the meaning of the Italian Sunday lunch.

From North to South Italy everyone has eaten and prepared, at least once in their life, lasagne on Sunday for lunch with the whole family.

But, as with many other dishes of the Italian culinary tradition, lasagna also has an origin with many question marks that have contributed to improving this Italian excellence.

Like any dish and recipe, it is right to start from the origins of the latter and therefore the question is:

Where are lasagne born?

Three cities, three capitals of the Italian food and wine tradition, compete for the origins of lasagna. Rome, Bologna and Naples - in fact North, Center and South, another input on how this dish is a symbol of Italianness.

Lasagna was already known at the time of the ancient Romans, in fact we have evidence. Apicius tells us of the existence of a dish called "lagana" (or laganon or laganum) consisting of a thin layer of wheat stuffed with meat and cooked in the oven - a pie of baked pasta and meat. The history of lasagna does not end there, there are many odes and quotes about this dish that has been mentioned throughout the nation. 

Among the many we have, Jacopone da Todi that says “granel di pepe vince per virtù la lasagna”  (peppercorns wins lasagna by virtue)  and  fra ' Salimbene da Parma described us  a monk in the following way: “Non vidi mai nessuno che come lui si abbuffasse tanto volentieri di lasagne con formaggio” (I never saw anyone like him who eagerly gorged himself on lasagna with cheese).

In Emilia Lasagne arrived with the advent of egg pasta (pasta all’uovo), in that period the dish was described as alternating layers between pasta and meat.

The lasagne recipe, as we know it today, takes shape and is completed with the arrival of the tomato sauce from Naples.

Hence the dish as we know it is made by this union Emilia and Campania, and that’s why the challenge on the origin of the dish between Bologna and Naples arises.

But it seems, according to some sources, that the origin of lasagna tends towards Campania.

There are several books that report the existence of this dish as early as the Angevin period, one above all is the "liber de coquina" which dates back to the fourteenth century which tells us about lasagna boiled and seasoned with spices and cheese layer by layer.

Then we have Giovanni Battista Crisci who, in 1634, in his book La lucerna de Corteggiani, describes the recipe for lasagna with stewed nuns, mozzarella and cacio.

Over the years, until the unification of Italy, we have seen everything and more about this dish that in the end do not allow us to code well the origin, but we are sure that everyone will appreciate the contribution that each single region and individual has given to this recipe that today is presented and made in many variations, among which the two most famous are the Bolognese and the Neapolitan one.

In addition to these two versions, which we will in the coming blogs, it is right to mention all the variations that the various regions have made in order to combine the beauty of the dish with the typical products of their territory.

We have the version with mushrooms, widely used in mountain areas, or the Genoese one that sees the use of Genovese pesto - read more about this product - or we have a Sicilian version "alla Norma" and at the end the Sardinian version made with bread Carasau.

We have come to the end of this blog that has led us to learn the secrets and the journeys that lasagne made throughout history and how it arrived in our homes for the Sunday lunch. 

Keep following us because in the next articles we will tell you the original recipes of the two most famous lasagna, the Neapolitan and the Bolognese.

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