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20th November 2012 was the first Homage Day in praise of Spag Bol, a truly British institution and one of the most popular dishes in the country.
Although spaghetti alla bolognese is very popular outside of Italy, it never existed in Bologna. It is very popular in Australia, Germany, Hungary, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway. In the United States, the term 'bolognese' is sometimes applied to a tomato-and-ground-beef sauce that bears little resemblance to the ragù served in Bologna. In the UK we have our good old Spag Bol and owes very little to what many think of as its Italian origins.
In British households, spaghetti bolognese has been a regular feature of mealtimes since the 1960s. According to the statistics, we eat up to670 million portions a year
The traditional recipe, registered in 1982 by the Bolognese delegation of Accademia Italiana della Cucina, confines the ingredients to beef (skirt steak), pancetta, onions, carrot, celery (stalk), tomato paste, meat broth, red dry wine, milk, salt and pepper to taste. Some make use of chopped pork or pork sausage; chicken liver may be added along with the beef orveal for special occasions, and today many use both butter and olive oil for cooking the soffritto. Prosciutto, mortadella, or porcini mushrooms may be added to the ragù to further enrich the sauce.
History of Spag Bol
Spaghetti House, (www.spaghettihouse.co.uk) now a very successful group, opened in Goodge Street, London on 6 September 1955. Spaghetti House did not toss pasta with the sauce as it would slide to the bottom but instead piled it in the middle. Simone Lavarini, founder says Spaghetti Bolognese was on the menu from day one in 1955 as well as Spaghetti Napoli, Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, Tagliatelle Alfredo. Stefana, daughter of founder says the recipe has changed little, using a mixture of beef and pork originally.
Some time ago, Stefano Bonilli, a renowned Italian gastronomer, who was born in Bologna, wrote: "Spaghetti alla bolognese never existed. Spaghetti is dry pasta from Southern Italy, in Bologna, we have tagliatelle, freshly homemade, al ragù bolognese". A proper ragu sauce is meat, onions, wine, a little tomato paste and vegetables - no garlic whatsoever, nor a single herb.
Why Spag Bol is British?
"Abroad, when they offer spaghetti bolognese, it's often something that has nothing at all to do with the original," said Alfredo Tomaselli, the owner of Dal Bolognese, in Rome's Piazza del Popolo, who counts among his past customers George Clooney.
Some say that all happened during War World II, when American (and British) soldiers passing through Emilia, ate tagliatelle al ragù and liked them. Back home, they asked for the dish and Italian restaurateurs created the dish we know today, with spaghetti. There is no evidence but the story could well be true. When American and British came back to Italy as tourists they asked for their beloved Spaghetti Bolognese and 'unscrupulous' Italian restaurateurs gave it to them.
The bolognese served across the UK today is a purely British invention, cultivated by Italian chefs over here in the Sixties. It panders to what the Italians believe British people expect from Mediterranean food - plenty of garlic and loads of herbs, and served with spaghetti.
RECIPE: The perfect authentic bolognese (Serves four people)
On Sunday, 17 January 2010, 450 chefs in Italian restaurants in 50 countries cooked bolognese to an authentic recipe in order to promote Tagliatelle al ragù alla bolognese. International newspapers unfortunately did not always reference the Accademia Italiana della Cucina recipe and many published stock photographs of Spaghetti alla Bolognese instead rather defeating the objectives of the exercise.
Spag Bol (one of many British versions some of which add mushrooms, Tabasco, chlli, Worcestershire Sauce and more)
1 large onion, diced
Spag Bol, Spaghetti alla bolognese, spaghetti bolognese, in a form popular in Britain consists of a meat sauce served on a bed of spaghetti, often with a good sprinkling of grated Parmigiano cheese. It consists of ground beef, tomato, onion, herbs, spices, sometimes cream and additional vegetables such as carrots, celery, or even parsnip.
Organiser : Peter Grove
P.O. Box 416 Surbiton Surrey KT1 9BJ Tel : 020 8399