The Delicious History of Lasagna
Lasagna, could there be a more perfect dish? It’s comfort food on steroids. Layers of cheese generously piled on top of decadent amounts of meat, and then smothered with a sauce that would bring tears to the most cynical Italian’s eyes. When you cut into this amazing concoction of bliss you often don’t think of the history behind lasagna. Surprisingly, lasagna did not originate in Italy.
Lasagna Originated in Greece
We may never know the exact person who created lasagna. In fact, this dish was not named after an individual, but after a fermented noodle called laganon that was frequently used in ancient Greece where lasagna originated. In the beginning, lasagna was sprinkled with toppings, and eaten with a pointed stick. Unrecognizable by today’s standards, the only similarity between the two was the layering of pasta and sauce.
Thank the Romans
Lasagna would not be so popular today if not for the Romans. While this dish was created in Greece it was not until the Romans conquered the region around 146 BC that the dish became known. The Romans were famous for embracing local customs, cultures, and foods into their society so it wasn’t long before lasagna became commonplace in their cuisine. Rome came to adore the lagonon noodle, a flatbread dough cut into thin strips, then smothered in a various toppings. Under Roman influence, the recipe made its way to Italy where chefs altered it until it became the amazing dish we know today.
Lasagna first made is a grand entrance in Naples, Italy during the Middle Ages in the 14th century. Initially, this dish was reserved for special events and holidays. Ironically, this pleasure inducing food was introduced to Italians in the middle of the Black Plague.
Mama Mia! Hello, America!
Eventually, lasagna made its way to North America in the late 1800s with Italian immigrants who brought their family recipes to the New World. Shortly after, Americans were introduced to Parmigiano-Reggiano embraced with layers of slow-cooked tomato sauce separated by perfectly cooked lasagna noodles. It was love at first taste, and lasagna quickly became a staple within American cuisine.
So, is Lasagna Italian or Greek?
The debate continues as to who truly created this decadent dish. People state that it’s Italy claim to fame since they were the ones who perfected the dish. Researchers in Great Britain support this conclusion as they discovered a cookbook created in the 1390s containing an Italian recipe for lasagna.
Several centuries later lasagna remains a popular comfort food that is beloved by millions around the globe. The original recipe has evolved as there are vegetarian options, eggplant lasagna, and even ones with a Southwestern Flair. The choices are endless. Regardless what ingredients are used this Italian comfort food is a historic staple that will continue pleasing pallets for generations to come.