ravioli with tomato sauce in a pan

Ravioli may be a simple dish but it is highly regarded as one of the most important part of the Italian culinary culture. With a humbling list of ingredients like cheese and meat or vegetables originating from specific regions.

The thing that makes Ravioli special is the way it’s prepared out of love and affection for family members and loved ones during festive occasions like Christmas etc. Here’s all you need to know about its history and origins.

Origins of Ravioli – Who Invented Ravioli?

It’s been centuries now that Ravioli has been present at almost all major Italian restaurants and on every home’s cookbook. But where did start from, who came up with the idea of stuffing a fill between two pasta layers and when? 

Well, Ravioli is just like all other dishes that have been passed on to us by our ancestors in different regions of the world. Information that could indicate its origins accurately is very scarce. 

However, its earliest mentions in the historical records could be traced back to literature about food from the 14th century. One such literature points out to a theory that suggests a possible story of ravioli’s origin.

According to this theory, ravioli was invented from another dish called torta that originally was much larger and contained similar ingredients like spices, grains, meat and vegetables. The grains were just used to cook the contents of the dish, as a type of pie shell. 

The proponents of this theory claim that ravioli is the bit-sized form of torta, reduced to a size that can be consumed by a larger number of people. Another theory indicates that sailors from Genova, the northwestern coastal city of Italy, invented ravioli. It claims that these sailors used to wrap their portions leftover from their meals in a dough pocket to have a wider variety to their normal diet. 

Ravioli’s Recorded History 

In her Encyclopedia of Pasta, published in 2009, Oretta Zanini De Vita, a renowned Italian food historian, argues that Ravioli used to be enjoyed by the elite before becoming a favorite of peasants, farmworkers and ordinary people. 

The earliest verifiable accounts of stuffed pasta in the Italian culinary scene date back to the 1500s in the aristocratic courts of Milan from the northern Italian region of Lombardy. After a few years, the recipes and preparations trickled down to the Italian regional food scene and from there to the rest of the world as we know it today. 

This effect from Northern Italy still exists today and manifests itself when Italians from the north turn to those traditional ravioli fillings like almonds biscuits, pumpkins and macaroons, also known as ravioli di zucca e amaretti. 

These extra special fillings give ravioli a celebrity status and have helped it evolve into a mainstream Christmas Eve meal. Regardless of these facts, ravioli reserves a long-standing relationship with the tradition of being served on Fridays and on the occasion of Lent, during which vegetarian dishes were preferred over meals based on meat.

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