Lasagna is a wonderful food for its versatility. It’s simple, filling and can easily go around large tables with plenty of leftovers. Today, lasagna has become such a mainstay that recipes for fusion lasagnas can be found everywhere. Verily, any country can apply their unique style of ingredients and cooking to the blank canvas known as lasagna. However, have you taken the time to stop and wonder the origins of America’s favorite pasta dish?
If you have, then here’s a brief history of the lasagna.
Modern lasagna is, of course, a by-product of Italian cuisine. There are a few theories as to how it was developed, and where the entomology of the word lasagna came to be. Like many Italian cultural and intellectual achievements, it can be traced down to ancient Greece.
Around 197 BCE the once mighty Greek empire fell at the onslaught of the Romans. This was largely in part due to the Romans advancements in weaponry, combined with their ability to emulate the special advantages of their opponents. The Romans used Greece tactics to eventual oust the empire. When Greece was successfully occupied, Rome made quick work adopting their philosophy, religion, science, mathematics, as well as its food and language. One of these newly espoused provisions was the idea of lasagna.
The main theory is that the term lasagna can be traced down to the Greek word laganon, which was a flat sheet of dough cut into strips. This term is still used in Greece to describe a thin flat type of bread. There is also lasanon, which refers to a sort of ancient crock-pot. The Romans borrowed this word and turned it into lasanum, which also means a sort of cooking pot. Therefore, the entomology of lasagna is believed to refer to the pot it was cooked in.
Another theory that helps tie modern lasagna to its ancestors comes from the 14th century English recipe called Loseyn. This recipe shares the similarities with lasagna in its ingredients being layered between pasta sheets as well as name. The major difference is that tomatoes weren’t fully introduced to England until after Columbus discovered America. The earliest English recipe featuring the tomato was found in 1652.
From there, European immigration brought the delicious pasta dish to North America where it has continued to change and shift into the versatile dinner option we know and love today.