Internationally, fettuccine alfredo is one of the most common Italian dishes. But did you know that the very first time the meal was made, it was to remedy an upset stomach? Did you also know that it is less popular in its origin country, Italy? These and many more offer intriguing insight into the true origins of the fettuccine Alfredo.
The fettuccine Alfredo is named after its creator, Alfredo di Lelio, who owned a restaurant on the Via Della Scrofa in Rome. He made the classic pasta dish for his wife, Ines, who was pregnant at the time.
Ines was in great turmoil suffering an upset stomach and heavily pregnant, could barely keep down any meal. This prompted Alfredo to prepare a plain pasta dish, pasta in bianco, also known as white pasta.
To give it an extra edge, he added butter and a sprinkle of parmesan. A final toss and the simple dish was ready; amazingly, Ines loved it!
This was in 1914. Alfredo would make the dish several more times for his wife, using whatever happened to be the fatte in casa ("made in house") pasta. He also made it a permanent addition to his restaurant's menu.
However, the dish didn't gain attention until 1920, when two famous American actors, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, visited the restaurant while on their honeymoon.
They ordered the dish, which that day was made with fettuccine pasta. The celebrity couple was completely taken with the unique dish, and they had Alfredo give them the recipe.
Thus, the spread of the special dish to the United States. The couple expressed appreciation to Alfredo by sending him a gold fork and spoon, engraved with the words, "to Alfredo the King of the noodles" and their names.
The gifts were one of a kind and quickly made news with the American news publicizing the fettuccine Alfredo as the "rich stuff."
While it became so popular in the US with the creation of the accompanying Alfredo sauce, the dish was nothing more than mere noodles tossed in butter for Italians.
To date, only a few places serve the fettuccine alfredo. You may even have to call the dish by any of its other names, fettuccine al burro, fettuccine burro e parmigiano, or pasta in bianco, to place an order!