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‘Spag Bol’: How Australians adopted a classic Italian recipe and made it their own

Spaghetti Bolognese has been named the favourite home-cooked recipe of Australians. Source: Pixabay

'Italian-Australian Spaghetti Bolognese' has been nominated Australia's most popular recipe for 2019 by the Good Food Guide, but how did it become such a favourite dish?

'Italian-Australian Spaghetti Bolognese' by food writer Jill Dupleix has been designated the favourite home-cooked recipe of Australians in 2019 in the Good Food Guide.

"The idea of pasta or noodles with a meaty sauce is one of the most appreciated dishes in the world, not just Australia," Ms Dupleix told SBS Italian. 

"But so many Australians have grown up with it, that it is now our comfort food as well as that of Italy.

"I remember my mum cooking it on the farm on which I grew up, using the only dried pasta available at the time (number 1 size spaghetti) and lamb mince because it was a sheep farm.”

The idea of pasta or noodles with a meaty sauce is one of the most appreciated dishes in the world, not just Australia.

"Because that's the thing about a great recipe wherever it may travel – people love it and make it their own.

"Lucky for us in Australia, we have had so many Italians [who have] come to live here over the years that we have adopted and adapted their wonderful ways with food – as we have with all the other cultures and cuisines we find ourselves neighbours with," continues Ms Dupleix.

Today, the recipe is enjoyed in almost every eatery in Australia and comes from the Italian Ragù Bolognese.

For Italians, cooking traditions are so serious that some of the recipes are patented and Ragù Bolognese is no exception: the exact recipe is registered at the Chamber of Commerce in Bologna.

But how does Spaghetti Bolognese differ from the original recipe from the Italian city of Bologna, Tagliatelle al Ragu?

Piera Pagnoni, chef at King and Godfree (Melbourne), was born in Bologna and raised in a family with a long tradition of fresh pasta makers. 

"First of all, I have never eaten Spaghetti Bolognese in my entire life. The Australian Bolognese is what we call Ragù Bolognese or pasta sauce. We don’t use herbs, spices or garlic," explains Pagnoni.

"You use the sauce for tagliatelle not dry pasta."

I believe there is room for tradition as well as for innovation, if the ingredients are fresh and good quality.

About the Australian twist on the original Italian tradition, Pagnoni ruled: "I believe there is room for tradition as well as for innovation, if the ingredients are fresh and good quality. Although, some Italian "classics" should be respected and not distorted."

Ms Dupleix says she also believes evolution is important. 

"Great food, like language, will continue to evolve. Mind you, I officially called this an Australian/Italian version for those purists, in case they didn’t know that I knew I was bending the rules!.

"I sincerely hope that real Italian foodies feel proud that so many different countries love their traditional dishes, even if they tweak those traditions to their own tastes."

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