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Day of Ragú alla Bolognese
Events | Food | Traditions
The Real Ragù alla Bolognese
A city symbol and mainstay of Bologna's cuisine, the celebrated meat sauce is fundamental to the local heritage and central to the city's role as gastronomic capital of Italy. A new initiative is working towards trademarking the real thing.
Tagliatelle al ragù or spaghetti bolognese: the world's favourite pasta sauce has long been at the centre of a debate as to what to eat it with, but now purists (who'll serve it with nothing but home-made egg tagliatelle or as an ingredient for lasagne alla bolognese) and innovators alike have joined forces with the united aim of keeping standards high.
The Magna Charta of Ragù
On 21 October 2018, a selection of representatives from local authorities and traditional food associations got together with chefs, writers and other experts for the first official Day of Ragù alla Bolognese. As well as celebrating – and enjoying - the city's ragù they were here to sign an official document, the Magna Charta del Ragù, committing to promote and protect the quality of Bolognese sauce with the aim of achieving official recognition and a trademark that can be assigned to producers, both large-scale and artisan, who pass the test and can label their sauces as the Real Bolognese ragù.
As food writer Carlo G. Valli declared during the event, “it is our duty to define our traditional recipes, as a foundation to work from, a starting point.” Local chef Vincenzo Vottero, president of the Ascom association of restaurateurs, added that what is most important nowadays is to promote high standards: “we must all be strict in our choice of only quality ingredients, whether we're sticking to traditions in our dishes or opting to innovate” and the man behind the initiative, Giovanni Tamburini, pointed out: “the world must understand that our bolognese ragù isn't just any old meat sauce but must be made according to a particular recipe.”
Davide Di Noi, president of The Real Bolognaise Sauce association which had already decided to go for trademark status for the sauce and organises the annual Festival del Ragù, held in central Bologna each September, is delighted at the opportunity to team up with other like-minded parties.
The official recipe
The official recipe for ragù alla bolognese does already exist; it was registered in 1982 at the Chamber of Commerce by the local section of the Accademia Italiana di Cucina, where it still appears among almost 30 other traditional foods. But having an official listing no longer seems to be enough to safeguard the integrity of the sauce, which is what led Giovanni Tamburini to launch this new initiative.
The Day of Ragù was held near Bologna in the charming context of the 18th century Villa Ranuzzi Cospi, a splendid location with original frescoes, a high-arched loggia and a pleasant garden.
Events are hosted by Tamburini's Accademia dei Notturni and there's an atmospheric cellar restaurant, Taverna dei Tamburini (open Tues-Sat eves & Sun lunch). The Tamburini family is well-known on the Bologna foodie scene, having run one of the city's best-loved historic delis for three generations in a prime location of the historic centre: Tamburini.
The winning ragù
Naturally the hero of the day was the sauce itself and a competition was held to select the best. After a blind tasting the jury returned an almost unanimous verdict declaring the ragù made by Giuseppe Tarantino of Ristorante Corbezzoli at Hotel Relais Bellaria to be the winner, just a single point ahead of the city centre's Cantina Bentivoglio, with the home team of Accademia dei Notturni coming third.
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