Do you know “spaghetti bolognese”?

“Spaghetti bolognese” is one the most  well- known Italian dishes, proposed - especially out of Italy- in many restaurants and fast foods.  The name derives  from the combination of spaghetti ( the most famous Italian kind of pasta, made of wheat durum and typical of South Italy) and ragu, a special dressing made of meat and tomato, invented in Bologna.

The fame of the dish is associated with its undoubtedly pleasant taste, although in Bologna they have ever used ragu to dress tagliatelle instead of spaghetti. Tagliatelle is an egg pasta, possibly hand-made, which is another centerpiece of the local gastronomy.

Tagliatelle are thin ribbons ( 6-8cm wide) of ancient origin, whose name derives from the verb “tagliare”( to cut) because they are obtained chopping a thin sheet of fresh pasta, that previously  has been air drayed and rolled up. The legend says that they have been created at the beginning of the XVI century by a Bolognese cook engaged for an important wedding  between noble families, who intended to honor the bride, being inspired by her blonde and long hairs.

The reference to Bologna as a universally recognized center of culinary skills, is closely related to the University. Since the medieval age Bologna has been known both as "the scholarly" (because of the ancient and famous University) and "the fat" (because of the rich culinary tradition). “Scholarly” because “fat”: actually only abundance of food allows to host and feed a population of students, that was very large for the time and that is still relevant with respect to the size of the city. “Fat” because “scholarly”: the exceptional concentration of students assures an extraordinary cultural enrichment interesting also the gastronomy field. Each student and professor brings his experience making Bologna  a meeting point, a “bridge” between the different European traditions; returning home those students and those professors took with them positive memories of the days spent in the city, activating a double circulation mechanism: the Study imports gastronomic culture and exports a strong and sound reputation. For this reason it is not a paradox that not inside but outside Bologna started the myth of Bologna the Fat: a myth originated likely in Paris around the XIInd century, and maintained over time.

Nowadays, in the age of globalization and mutual exchanges, the  research for good food continues to emphasize the value of the tradition,  investigating the trails of the past, but it is also open to the novelty and the recent inventions. Bologna now as then is enriching its tradition  taking advantage from the different cultures crossing the city: this does not weaken its identity but, on the contrary,  is still the secret of the its success. In the XVII-XVIIIth centuries the travelers who passed through the city, were surprised to find  inns where they could eat dishes prepared according to French or to the German style: actually the respect for “foreign” cultures has been cultivated in Bologna for centuries.