A recent article by the New York Times titled “Rigatoni with White Bolognese Recipe” created a funny controversy in Italy – and particularly in Bologna, the city where ragù originated – as The New York Times ‘suggested’ that tomatoes are not needed for ragù.
Bologna readers jumped on their chairs. They were quick to comment that Bolognese ragù without tomatoes cannot exist. They also pointed out that a real Bolognese sauce is served with tagliattelle or lasagna and never with the rigatoni noodles that the New York Times recommends. An official version of the recipe was even ratified by the Bologna Chamber of Commerce in 1982.
To defend the recipe, and the poor Bologna readers and ragù lovers, was one of the most read newspapers in Italy, la Repubblica, that on its Bologna pages wrote about the controversy giving voice to the frustration of the Bolognese people.
Comments varied from angry to ironic.
“Call this recipe as you want but not ‘Bolognese,’ and do not let any Italian look at you during the preparation,” reads a comment on the article. “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
This was not the first controversy around the Bolognese ragù. In July of 2016, the Bologna airport had to ask Ryanair to stop advertising flights to Bologna by tweeting that “Bologna is the home of spaghetti bolognese, how can you not love her?” as spaghetti is not traditional in Bologna.