The bastard Alfredo
One of the most classic dishes on every "Italian-American" menu is fettuccine alfredo. But did you know that what Americans consider to be alfredo sauce is rarely eaten in Italy? "The Italian-American" version of alfredo usually consists of lashings of cream and fat parmesan cheese. In Italy, however, cream is not used very often to make sauces, they consider it to be too heavy and thick.
Well I am sorry to disappoint you if you are looking forward to eating Fettucine Alfredo in Italy you won’t find it. It isn’t Italian. Well, that isn’t entirely true, actually. You can get it in Italy, but you will never find anything like it it on a menu,or certainly not by that name. To get you in the right frame of mind here,think of ordering a totally non authentic vindaloo in an English curry house or even better imagine I served you cheese on toast, and I told you that this was a special dish I call ‘Tosta alla Cozinheiro’, you would be laughing at me all the way to the toaster? Fettuccine Alfredo falls into that realm for an Italian.
So where did this bastard alfredo come from? The story goes that in 1914, a man named Alfredo di Lelio was trying to cook something that would please his pregnant wife. He created a sauce made from parmesan cheese and extra butter ("triplo burro") and poured it over some fettuccine. Di Lelio then opened up a restaurant in Rome and served his fettuccine dish.
Fettuccine Alfredo to our friends across the pond is a dish made from fettuccine tossed with Parmesan cheese and copious amounts of cream and heart rending lashings of butter. As the cheese melts, it emulsifies the liquids to form a smooth and rich sauce coating the pasta. In other words, it is a bastardised version of the Italian dish ( pasta al burro e parmigiano). Alfredo di Lelio gave it this name at his restaurants in Rome, in the early to mid 20th century.
The dish became popularized and eventually spread to the United States. The recipe has evolved and its commercialized version is now ubiquitous with heavy cream and other ingredients high in cholesterol.
The dish was so well known that di Lelio was invited to demonstrate it both in Italy and abroad. The fame of the dish, called on Alfredo's menus "maestosissime fettuccine all'Alfredo" 'most majestic fettuccine, Alfredo style', came largely from a "spectacle reminiscent of grand opera" when Alfredo prepared it at the table.Fettuccine Alfredo, minus the spectacle, has now become ubiquitous in Italian-style restaurants outside Italy, although in Italy this dish is usually called simply "fettuccine al burro".
|“||This act of mixing the butter and cheese through the noodles becomes quite a ceremony when performed by Alfredo in his tiny restaurant in Rome. As busy as Alfredo is with other duties, he manages to be at each table when the waiter arrives with the platter of fettuccine to be mixed by him. As a violinist plays inspiring music, Alfredo performs the sacred ceremony with a fork and spoon of solid gold. Alfredo does not cook noodles. He does not make noodles. He achieves them.||”|
|— George Rector American restaurateur and authority on food (1933)|
Cottage Cheese Alfredo
A less rich,but nevertheless creamy alternative to heavy alfredo, made with cottage cheese.You can play around with the ingredients to create your own taste sensation.I threw in a generous sprinkling of Cajun spice to give it a bit of peppery whoop la la Tastes just like the real thing... or maybe even better!
250g Durum wheat pasta of your choice with no traces of egg
1/2 cup milk (low-fat)
1/2 cup greek yoghurt
1/2 cup cottage cheese,drained
1 tbsp cornflour
flor de sal
1 tsp dried basil
generous grating of nutmeg
cracked black pepper pepper
2 large cloves crushed garlic, or more to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
fresh basil or parsley, to garnish
Pour mixture in small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat,stirring constantly until heated through and smooth.Check for seasoning as you stir, Adding more parmesan,salt, pepper (or other seasonings), to taste.
Let cook on very low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cooked pasta right before serving and let soak in for a couple minutes.