National Lasagna Day
You don’t have to be Italian or a fat, orange cartoon cat to celebrate National Lasagna Day on July 29. Tomato sauce, cheeses, meat, and vegetables — all separated by wide flat noodles — what’s not to love? Lasagna first showed up in Naples, Italy during the Middle Ages and made it to America in the nineteenth century. Since then, Americans have made it all their own. So this National Lasagna Day, head to your favorite Italian restaurant or pre-heat the oven and make your own.
HISTORY OF NATIONAL LASAGNA DAY
The word ‘lasagna’ originated in ancient Greece. Essentially, the name stems from the word ‘laganon’ — the earliest form of pasta. Flattened sheets of dough sliced into thin strips were referred to as ‘laganon.’ Of course, the original form was very different from the assembled lasagna dish we enjoy today. Layers of pasta slathered with sauce were present but without the essential Italian ingredients. A similar dish was commonly prepared in ancient Rome, called ‘lasanum,’ which means pot or container in Latin. When referring to the food dish, Italians used the word for pot, which the meal was served in. So the word ‘lasagna’ actually comes from the method of cooking it and not the ingredients.
The process of mixing flour and water dates back to the Middle Ages, resulting in lasagna as a popular dish. In 1284, Salimbene di Adam described a chubby friar indulging in lasagna, saying, “I’ve never seen anyone stuffing himself on lasagna with cheese so pleasurably and so fully as him.”
The lasagna cooked in Northern Italy uses flat noodles, while the noodles used in Southern Italy are rippled. The ingredients Italians use in the recipe depend on their family’s tradition and heritage. This may be around the time cheese was incorporated into the recipe. Adding egg to the dough didn’t popularize until the Renaissance period.
Tomato made its appearance in the recipe in Naples in the 1880s. Layering lasagna became trendy in the 19th century, thanks to Francesco Zambrini from Bologna. Also in the late 1800s, Italian immigrants brought their recipes, featuring béchamel, ragù, and Parmigiano-Reggiano to America. The meat sauce was tweaked according to preference, while others added vegetables to the layers.
NATIONAL LASAGNA DAY ACTIVITIES
1.Try a new recipe
Since there are so many different options for cooking lasagna, you should have little problem finding a great new recipe. If you want to try a lasagna with meatballs or even straight-up vegetarian, you’ll easily find recipes for both. You may end up finding a new variety that you like even better than Grandma’s. (Just don’t tell her.)
2.Search for “Garfield” lasagna references
Pick up a few Garfield comic books and enjoy watching him scarf down the pan after pan of lasagna. You’re sure to find a few laughs — even if it’s Monday.
If making lasagna at home is a little more than you want to tackle, consider traveling to a nearby Italian restaurant. Chances are these restaurants will offer more than one type, giving you a chance to try something new. Or, the restaurant may have a classic recipe that perfects this classic Italian dish.
WHY WE LOVE NATIONAL LASAGNA DAY
A. It’s gooey and delicious
Lasagna is a mess to make and a mess to eat — and that’s part of the reason it’s so great. So many times when preparing and enjoying food, people make too much out of the way it looks. But lasagna naturally spreads out when it’s free from the pan, with layers going everywhere. So don’t be neat and tidy on National Lasagna Day. Just have a napkin handy.
B. There are lots of varieties
There’s more than one way to make lasagna. Many people have their own family favorite recipes passed down from grandma that still tastes great today. But your favorite recipe might not be anything like your neighbor’s. That’s why this food is never boring.
C. Cat food
“Lasagna — nature’s perfect food,” says Garfield, the beloved cartoon cat created by Jim Davis. Who can look at a pan of lasagna without envisioning that beloved ginger cat scarfing it down with both paws?
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