Spaghetti al Pomodoro
Is it possible to sit at the table in front of a plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce and reflect on the meaning of roots, identities, origins?
An exciting historical deconstruction of tomato sauce spaghetti in which the author goes on a quest to find the key elements, ingredients and techniques that have made this dish the symbol of Italian cuisine.
There is no doubt: pasta is an identifying symbol of Italy in the kitchen. It is the perfect image of a culture (not only gastronomic) that paradoxically finds its unifying and distinctive character in the variety of local variations. There are hundreds of formats and there are thousands of recipes, made with different products and with different procedures. However, some recipes and some traditions have imposed themselves more as symbols. And so spaghetti with tomatoes, seasoned with Parmesan cheese, are the identifying symbol par excellence. Or so - at least - it is seems from outside.
"Seen by an uninformed outsider", wrote Odile Redon and Bruno Laurioux, this first Italian dish "is nothing but a plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce and grated parmesan."
This book analyses the dish and questions its origins: not so much to know who the first to have invented it was, or who first tasted it, but to find the roots that made it possible to make it and the environmental reasons which justified its success.
"How many variations of the spaghetti al pomodoro exist and how many would we have to analyze? We choose to set a minimum common denominator, a standard that can work well, if not to all, to many. The basic elements will be, of course, spaghetti and tomato sauce. The grated Parmesan will also be - a less obvious choice, but equally important in the collective perception. We add the olive oil, simply calling it this way, without the ‘extra’ and without the ‘virgin’, prefixes that only today have acquired a precise product and commercial meaning. We still add garlic and / or onion (choosing between them, or keeping them together -- this is just a matter of taste). We will not deny ourselves a basil leaf, now a commonplace of Italianness. Salt. Finally, here we could stop, but a handful of chilli is recommended in most recipes."