Le tagliatelle are one of the most famous types of pasta in the UK, after Spaghetti. Usually handmande and fresh, we use them in a few of our dishes, one in particular, Tagliatelle all’Ortolana. The porous texture of freshly made tagliatelle in fact, goes perfectly with the creamy sauce and delicious seasonal vegetables.
Have you ever wondered though, why us Italians have so many names for our different varieties of pasta? In most cases the names come straight from the verb of the action impied to make them, some other times there are proper legends, and we still wonder that as well whether those are true or not. In the case of Tagliatelle we have both.
The word tagliatelle in fact, comes from the verb “tagliare”, to cut, and legend has it that , in 1487, a talented chef working at the court of the Lord of Bologna, Giovanni II of Bentivoglio, was aksed by his Lord to organise a magnificent banquet in honor of Lucrezia Borgia. The beautiful Lucrezia was passing through Bologna because she was headed for Ferrara to marry the duke Alfonso D’Este, and for this reason Bentivoglio wanted to honor her. Among all the incredible delicacies, the chef, inspired by the beauty and the hair of the Lady, created a new shape of pasta that resembled her golden locks.
Fun fact, the legend is actually not true, because we know that it was a tale invented in 1931, by the humorist Augusto Majani in an attempt of dignifying the origin of this pasta.
Each pasta shape (and name) usually belongs to a specific region of Italy. it’s not unusual in fact to have the same called with different names and the ownership of some of these pastas is still battled between cities. In the case of Tagliatelle, though, there is no doubt: the birthplace is in Emilia Romagna, a region in the north of Italy.
Another fun fact… did you know that we have specific measurements for the true Tagliatelle? The Accademia Italiana della Cucina (Italian Academy of Cuisine) has deposited a golden sample of a single tagliatella to the Chamber of Commerce of Bologna with the exact lenght of the delicious strands of pasta…and it should the 12.270th part of the height of the Asinelli Tower – so more or less 7mm.