From the Washingtonian magazine, an article on pasta and compares it to pasta in Italy. Some things I never knew:
1. In Italy, pasta rarely serves as a main course. The exceptions are spaghetti alla carbonara and lasagna di carnevale.
2. The union of a pasta with certain meats, or the use of a tomato-sauced pasta as a garnish to veal pizzaiola or shrimp fra diavolo , is an invention of Italian-American restaurants.
3. Fettuccine all’Alfredo is a product of Hollywood: In 1920, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, the greatest film stars of their time, celebrated their honeymoon in Rome. There they fell in love with a dish of fresh noodles tossed with butter and Parmesan by Alfredo di Lelio at his namesake restaurant. They returned for the dish every day they were there. Back home in Hollywood, the stars raved about Fettuccine all’Alfredo. Recipes for it soon were appearing in print.
The problem was that the butter widely available in this country was not rich enough in fat to produce the creamy sauce of a true Fettuccine all’Alfredo. Whipping cream made its way into the formula, then hucksters began using flour to stretch the cream. In time, cookbooks spread the notion that Fettuccine all’Alfredo was a dish of fresh noodles awash in cream.
4. Today you will not find authentic Fettuccine all’Alfredo on the set menu of any of Washington’s Italian restaurants.