Lasagna & Ravioli: Made in Greece
Ancient Greeks had a pan called a lasana, which, according to Homer, was used to bake flat sheets of dough. The Greeks brought that pan and the flat dough with them wherever they colonized, and one of the main areas they colonized was Italy. Taken into Italian, that word and the dish, as lagana, became lasagna. To this day, lasagna features flat sheets of dough that are arranged in layer-cake fashion with foods between. In modern Greek, lagana generally means the wide, low pan and flat, unleavened Lenten breads that are baked in it; but in Macedonia, laganes refers to a thin noodle pie layered with sausage, sauce, and greens, topped with cheese. Sound familiar?
By Byzantine times, the Greeks had become great “stuffers,” and stuffing pasta is not something they missed. In particular the Pontians created many sorts of stuffed pasta, their preferred shape being the half-moon.
Hi, I’m Susanna Hoffman, author of The Olive and The Caper: Adventures in Greek Cooking and numerous articles of the cuisines and history of food in Greece. I’ll be contributing recipes, stories, legends, annals about Greek food for the newsletter every month. Please look for “Susanna’s Corner” and prepare to get ravenous.