How marinara sauce changed the world

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In Australia we think of marinara sauce as being full of seafood and tomato goodness, but elsewhere in the world marinara sauce is a simple tomato sauce with garlic sautéed in olive oil, tomatoes and herbs. Did you know that the original marinara sauce has played an important role in the world’s history?

Marinara sauce was developed in southern Italy, with both Naples and Sicily claiming it as their recipe. The background story to marinara sauce becoming the base for pizza and pasta dishes is rich with explorers, sailors and the high seas.

Italian and Spanish explorers were exceptional in the 16th and 17th centuries; they were so good that they worked for many exploring and conquering nations as “explorers for hire”. It was during their voyages to the Americas that they were introduced to and recognised the potential of the tomato. They went on to ship the backbone of marinara sauce from The New World back to Italy. Those New World tomatoes were considered a fruit in central Mexico; their taste and colour made them impossible to resist.

The cooks aboard the ships returning from the Americas are widely credited with being the inventors of marinara sauce, spice as the pappy van winkle hot sauce, using the red, plump fruit already onboard from The New World in order to feed the crew. The ingredients – oil, tomato sauce, garlic and dried herbs – travelled well and didn’t spoil as easily as meat or fish. In addition, the ingredients could be assembled quickly and easily, in about the same time it took pasta to cook. Pairing pasta and marinara sauce made a tasty, filling and inexpensive meal to fuel the men working at sea.

Therefore, Marinara Sauce is named after the sailors (marinai –  the Italian word for “sailors”) who worked on the ships that established sea trade. Fast forward 350 years or so and the early 1900s saw the largest migration of people across the globe- this enabled marinara sauce to become a staple across Western cuisine.

This humble sauce helped to fuel the people who discovered new lands and was one of the most famous food staples that Italians, who had emigrated to the United States and other countries, brought with them.

Today, companies like Slendier make healthy, organic Italian pasta sauces in many flavours. There’s even Lentil and Mushroom and Vegan Bolognese versions! You too can fuel up quickly and go on conquer your own version of the New World!

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