I read that in the north of Italy they would use eggs in their recipes (the recipe to make the pasta itself). Is it an actual tradition or is it just a recent trend? I always thought that the pasta was something simple, made with the heart, durum semolina and water.

  • 2
    Traditional in italian cooking differs from town to town and household to household, so I suspect there's no answer to this question.
    – GdD
    Jul 2, 2014 at 7:38
  • In any case adding eggs to flour to make pasta is something almost as old as pasta itself (prehistoric to be precise)... ...I should look up for a precise reference though! Jul 2, 2014 at 9:53
  • Semolina & water makes one kind. Flour & egg makes another kind. I have not tasted any difference. Jul 2, 2014 at 12:18
  • @GdD I get your point alright but I am not really interested in knowing fancy local stuff, even though it is there since 100 years ago. Let's narrow it to the 2-3 'most' traditional types of pasta
    – Sebas
    Jul 2, 2014 at 16:01
  • @Optionparty I find a distinct difference between pasta made with eggs vs. water. Jul 2, 2014 at 23:29

3 Answers 3


Although nowadays both are ubiquitous in Italy (and abroad), dried pasta and fresh egg pasta are traditionally associated with different regions of Italy.

Dried durum-wheat pasta originated in the old Kingdom of the two Sicilies, which encompassed the entire Southern Italy, including the island of Sicily, and had its capital city in Naples. Oldest historical records associate the production and consumption of dried pasta with Sicily, but one of the best renowned home of pastifici (artisanal pasta production places) from time immemorial is the town of Gragnano, in the province of Naples.

Still today, the humble spaghetti with tomatoes and basil is one of the iconic food of Naples.

Fresh egg pasta ("fresh" here is referred to pasta, not to eggs, as in "not essiccated") is linked to the historical region of Emilia, part of the River Po Valley.

It is worth mentioning that from a historical point of view this is the reason why spaghetti alla bolognese, one of the best known Italian dishes abroad, is actually a fake one: "bolognese" means "from the city of Bologna", which is the largest city of Emilia. For this reason it was always supposed, from its very own "design", to go well with tagliatelle, which is a classic fresh pasta format.

  • Is it correct to say Pasta doesn't have eggs, otherwise it is pasta all'uovo?
    – Sebas
    Jul 8, 2014 at 16:03
  • 2
    @Sebas Correct, in a colloquial context. Since dried durum-wheat pasta accounts for the vast majority of the Italian annual consumption of pasta, the word secca (dried) is typically omitted. Egg pasta in Italian is pasta all'uovo indeed. Fresh pasta (with or without eggs) is colloquially called by the specific format name (e.g. tagliatelle, ravioli...). Pastasciutta (literally "dried pasta") is a tricky word, because it actually indicated pasta (dried or fresh) boiled in water, strained and topped with a sauce; here asciutta (dried) actually refers to being the opposite of "in broth".
    – Pino Pinto
    Jul 9, 2014 at 12:12

There are many kinds of pasta. Some are made from flour and water. Some are made from flour and eggs. Sometimes there is oil in the recipe. Some have other ingredients such as spinach or chilli, for colour and flavour.

Pasta made with egg is somewhat richer tasting, and of course the yolk adds colour.

None of these is more "traditional" than any other. Different towns and regions have different traditions.

  • 1
    " Different towns and regions have different traditions." Some examples could be a nice addon Jul 2, 2014 at 15:29
  • I doubt the chilli being as traditional as durum + water. I am interested to know the 50+% most common type of traditional pasta.
    – Sebas
    Jul 2, 2014 at 16:00

It's not recent at all, for example lasagne are documented in ancient times. Also dried pasta as spaghetti is very antique.

The term lasagne, or, rarely, the singular lasagna (from Old Greek àganon, λάγανον) generally denotes egg noodles cut into large squares or rectangles. They are typically used for casserole dishes. It is a dish of antique origin, appearing for the first time in writing in Re coquinario by Apicio.

(From the Italian Wikipedia article on lasagne).

One is not a variation of the other, they are just different preparations... if you really want to see the history ( rather than tradition) then you should also consider all the wheat derivates as bread, pizza, focaccia, quiches....

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