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The history and origin of Bolognese sauce

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Few can claim that they haven’t tried a good plate of pasta with a delicious Bolognese sauce, one of the most well-known and tasty sauces of Italian origin, but what’s behind this sauce? What’s its history?

Bolognese sauce is one of the most traditional sauces in Italian cuisine. We’ll tell you everything in this post: History, evolution, and origin of Bolognese sauce.

As it’s said, its origin is from the famous region of Emilia Romagna during ancient Rome, and although outside of Italy, we’re used to consuming it with long pasta, it wasn’t always like that.

Appearance of the sauce in ancient Rome

It’s believed that when this sauce first appeared, it was served on the table as a second dish during the conquest of Gaul in the 1st century BC, in which the main ingredient was meat, and later, over time, it became a filling for bread.

So, if you were wondering, no, Bolognese sauce didn’t originate in Bologna but in Gaul, that is, in modern-day France.

The recipe was such a success that it gradually exported and expanded throughout the entire empire. In fact, at first, it wasn’t known as Bolognese sauce, but as ragù, a term with an etymological origin in the French verb “ragoûter,” translated as “to whet the appetite.”

Its evolution during the Middle Ages

It was during the Middle Ages when it returned to Italy, in large part thanks to university students who moved throughout Europe, and who made it reappear in the region of Bologna, at which point it would be incorporated into traditional pasta dishes that have been consumed throughout Italy.

The recipe was perfected during this time, where both the wealthiest noble population and the humblest families made their version of it, at which point the use of ground meat from the oldest bovine cattle became popularized as a way to make use of this meat and give a more powerful flavor to the sauce.

In fact, at that time, it was common to cut the meat into cubes, using animal fats from pork instead of vegetable oil to fry and cook the ingredients of this recipe. Similarly, the use of tomatoes was not so popularized, so milk and white wine were used to cook, give body and texture to the Bolognese sauce of the time, to which a final touch of cream was usually added.

From the 16th century, with the introduction of tomatoes in Italian and European cuisine, the recipe gradually evolved until it reached the official version of the late 20th century.

Bolognese sauce at the end of the 20th century and today

As we’ve seen before, in a short time, Bolognese sauce spread throughout all Italian families, who would already begin to prepare this tasty sauce with beef ragù.

This became one of the quintessential Italian sauces, with even the original recipe being incorporated into the Chamber of Commerce of Bologna in 1982 by the Italian Academy of Cuisine. The main objective was to preserve its origin forever.

Despite this, there are many small variations that are made in its preparation, always with the aim of adapting to the tastes and flavors of each area but always seeking to maintain its essence.

Come and try this delicious sauce at our restaurants

At La Mafia, we’re aware of the history and importance that Bolognese sauce has had in Italian cuisine and culture, which is why we take care of its preparation with all the care and quality it deserves. Come and enjoy our dishes at any of our Italian restaurants throughout Spain.