Ok I am going to start right off this dish dates back to over 500 years ago… But tomato’s and pasta never existed in Italy they never heard of them or tasted them. So no spaghetti and meatballs no marinara sauce no pizza.
Let me explain everything…
The noodle was invented in Asia records show as far back as 4000 years…ok lets move forward.
“Yea we know that Marco Polo brought the noodle to Italy” I am not too sure about that. He may have brought some form of dried noodle back but Italy had a type of lasagna 100 years before.
Also, Persia has this string type of food like a noodle in 1154 called Rishta.
Which is very possible they got from traveling to the silk roads in China.. a lot of people believe Marco Polo was a liar… and possible had never actually been to China!
Here are some reasons why they believe that…
All over China and Asia people used 2 sticks to eat and no one else in the world ate that way…
he never mentions that ever…
The Great Wall of China which is so big you can see from space…
No mention of that either…
Bound feet, which were happening big time in that period… nope not a peep.
He said he was an emissary for Kublai khan but yet no mention of him in any of the khan’s manuscripts and scholars don’t mention him. I don’t know the complete story I am sure you can research it pretty easy.
But the fabrication of him bringing pasta back to Italy seems to come from story’s to help the moral of immigrants coming to America.
Italians were not respected nor wanted in America.
But then Washington Irving wrote the legend of sleepy hollow and rip winkle. He decided to do a book about Christopher Columbus and wrote a fictionalized history of Columbus travels in 1828.
So the government eventually adopted the fiction to help the Italians immigrate to America: “Hey you guys discovered America, we welcome you since you discovered it.”
In truth he never even came close to America.
It was all fiction to sell books.
Actually, The Vikings were here first, but they went back and didn’t wipe out all the indigenous people.
The tomato was first introduced in Tuscany 1548 by Spanish conquistadors from Peru as the “pomi d’oro,” the golden fruits. They were only used as ornaments at first.
Then the peasants started cultivating them.
The first known use of tomato sauce with pasta appears in the Italian cookbook L’Apicio moderno, by Roman chef Francesco Leonardi, edited in 1790 but there were other versions earlier on just not with pasta.
So what did hell the Italians eat before pasta and Sunday gravy?
Polenta They had polenta for breakfast lunch and dinner either as porridge or cake they ate pol-lenty of polenta.
The polenta they ate Was not the maíz kind that came later on. it was from wheat grains and was called pulmentum and was eaten by the Roman Legions eventually replaced by farina then maize.
They also ate bread made by the Greeks like flatbreads.
The richer people ate meats and fish stuffed with fruit, roasted peacocks for special days, cheese, and fruit fresh vegetables simmered with herbs honey and dates with loaves of bread.
Now about my dish it was cooked for 8 hours it should have been 10 but it consists of 4 pounds of onions celery, and carrots with 1.5 pounds of beef all cooked down with oregano salt pepper and cheese.
This is a Genovese sauce that became the main sauce of Naples because of the Genova immigrants.
So every food has it’s legend this one was about this place that made slow cooked onion soup with some meat and then this chef named Geneva threw some pasta in it. Bada bing bada boom ala Genovese!
But my dish could have been made 1000 years before that since it has no tomatoes and it on top of simple polenta only made with water salt and cheese.
The way the polenta Soaks up the juices of the meat is incredible the flavor of the sauce is sweet meaty earthy and the onion is almost indistinguishable from meat it all blends with the onions as one.
But I also made one with rigatoni no 27…
If you leave your pot on for 10 hours on low heat… it is worth the time.