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According to a legend, tagliatelle were invented in 1487 by the Bolognese master Zefirano who, on the occasion of the wedding of Lucrezia Borgia (who had come to Bologna to marry the Duke of Ferrara, Alfonso I d’Este), was inspired to prepare the pasta by her blond hair. In reality, it is just a story invented by the Bolognese illustrator and humorist Augusto Majani in 1931.
On April 16, 1972, the Confraternita del Tortellino (Brotherhood of Tortellino) and the Accademia Italiana della Cucina (Italian Academy of Cuisine) deposited the recipe and measurements of the real Tagliatella di Bologna with the Bologna Trade, Industry, Craftsmanship and Agriculture Office. A sample of tagliatella in gold is displayed on the notice board at the Chamber of Commerce. The measurements of the cooked tagliatella established correspond to 8 millimetres in width (equal to the 12,270th part of the Asinelli Tower) equivalent to about 7 mm when uncooked. The thickness has not been precisely codified, but the major experts in the field maintain that it must be between 6 and 8 tenths of a millimetre.
The classic recipe calls for tagliatelle to be seasoned with ragù alla Bolognese, prepared with pork, veal and beef meat, minced and cooked in a sauté of butter, bacon and herbs, cooked with broth, red wine and tomato sauce, and generously covered with Parmesan cheese. There is, however, another version in which the sauce is made up of a prosciutto-based sauce.