Dishes from Bologna: the real Ragu

Tagliatelle al Ragu

Here’s something that will blow your mind.

Spaghetti Bolognese does not actually hail from Bologna. Its an anglophone bastardisation of a typical local dish - Tagliatelle al Ragu. 

Unlike the Bolognese we all know and love, which has become a staple of the student kitchen, a real ragu is much more refined. Onions, celery and carrot are diced so finely they melt and there's a real emphasis on fresh tomatoes - one tin of tomatoes just wont do. Generally two different types of meats are used too, a minced beef and a minced sausage or smoked ham. 

You wont find it served with Spaghetti anywhere in Bologna. For starters, Spaghetti is local to Napoli, not Bologna. It’s more than that though - the rich, thick sauce clings to the thick ribbons of fresh, egg pasta far better than its skinny sister.

Lasagna is an equally popular dish here, though equally corrupted outside of Italy. It uses a similar ragu, with lashings of a creamy bechemal sauce. Lasagne Verdi, made with green sheets of pasta which are prepared with the addition of spinach, is everywhere. 

So there we go. Your ‘spag bol’ should actually be a ‘tag bol’.