Tagliatelle or Fettucine? What is the difference?
Tagliatelle are an interesting type of pasta for 3 reasons. Firstly , in order to be called tagliatelle they have to have a particular width. Make them too narrow or thicker and they could become fettucine! Thinner still, and you may end up with bavette! Make them too wide and they will turn into pappardelle!
Secondly, according to legend, they have a rather romantic origin. It is said that tagliatelle were invented in 1487 when Giovanni II of Bentivoglio, at the time Lord of Bologna, asked his chef to prepare a banquet in honor of Lucrezia Borgia, who would be visiting the city on her way to Ferrara to marry Duke Alfonso D’Este. Bentivoglio wanted to honor the bride to be.
The chef Mastro Zefirano, apparently cooked an unforgettable banquet, which included a new type of pasta made by cutting classic lasagna into long golden strips of pasta in honor of the bride’s legendary blonde hair . This pasta became known as tagliatelle!
Whatever their origins, the name tagliatelle almost certainly stems from the traditional way of making them, in other words rolling out the dough into fairly thin sheets and cutting (tagliare in Italian) ribbons from them by hand. In the past, these ribbons were usually cooked fresh. Today, tagliatelle, sold around the world, are normally made by extrusion and sold dried as ‘nests’ of pasta. However, in Italy, they are most frequently homemade or bought fresh when served in restaurants and on special occasions.
Tagliatelle originate from the Emilia-Romagna and Marche regions of Italy and were originally always made as egg-based pasta. Today, they are often available as durum pasta, as well. Traditionally this pasta comes in two different colours, green and plain. The green is often coloured and flavored with spinach. An important characteristic of tagliatelle is the texture, which is relatively rough compared with other types of pasta and their porous nature also makes them ideal for soaking up some of the thicker sauces.
Not spaghetti bolognese!
Which brings me to the third interesting fact about tagliatelle! Despite the fact that everybody talks about spaghetti bolognese, traditionally tagliatelle are the pasta of choice for ‘bolognese’ in Italy. Bolognese sauce needless to say comes from Bologna but in Bologna they don’t normally call it ‘bolognese’. They call it ‘ragu’ meaning meat sauce. So if you happen to be in Bologna and want to eat ‘bolognese’ look for ‘tagliatelle al ragu’ on the menu, not spaghetti Bolognese!