Food / A bite of tomatoey heaven


It’s tasty, it’s Italian and it’s downright messy – Kate Rothwell sings the praises of spaghetti Bolognese.

If there’s one thing that I’d like to thank Italy for, it has to be spaghetti bolognese. International cuisine might lose a large proportion of its authentic quality by the time it hits our shores, but no matter how far from the original ‘Spaghetti alla Bolognese’ this dish is when served on an Irish table, it still never fails to please.


The classic combination of straightforward spaghetti, easy to cook mince and, thanks to the advent of the ready-made wonder that is supermarket bolognese sauce, a jar of Ragu, will see any kitchen novice set to satisfy their dinner guests.

The nutritional value can also be lauded if you alter the ingredients to include a vegetable or two, home made sauce, whole-wheat spaghetti and veggie mince, but a serving of this tasty favourite holds one far more important quality – it is a legitimately messy meal.

What other dinner can you attack with a spoon and a fork in hand, and then proceed to eat while half of what was on your plate is hanging out of your mouth? Etiquette is out, and gastronomic liberation is in.

But don’t let Lady and the Tramp fool you into thinking that spaghetti makes for a romantic meal. It’s not first, second or third date material and in fact should only be eaten in the presence of family and friends who know you better than you know yourself. Delicious it is, but pretty it ain’t.

Some fans of spaghetti Bolognese have expressed disgust at my casual christening of the dish as ‘spag bol’, claiming that such a coarse abbreviation does little justice to something so exquisite. My argument remains however, that this is merely a sign of affection for the repast – a pet name, if you will.

Spag bol and I are on intimate terms, and I would never do anything, which I thought might cheapen its glorious reputation. But it is better to honour this meal not only in name but in practise – so put on the kettle, heat up the pan and crack open the Lloyd Grossman – it’s time to dine.