El Pasticho, el primo venezolano de la lasaña.

As an Italian dish it became part of the current Venezuelan daily table.

By Verónika Popic

All Venezuelans have tried a pasticho at least once in their lives , it may be that we are not clear about its recipe, we do not know its origin, if it is a distant cousin of Italian lasagna or not or if we are the only ones who call it that, we What we are very clear about is that it is a dish that is based on sheets of pasta, ground meat in red sauce and cheese. After a lot of research, I am going to clarify all your doubts so that they no longer become a morass.

Definition of Lasagna and Pasticho.

Let's start with the official definitions of the Rae. For lasagna we can read in its first statement that it is: 1. f. Dish formed by layers of flour pasta, square or elongated, which are interspersed with minced meat, vegetables, etc... , a concept with which we are already familiar.

Then for the word pasticho , you can read: 1. m. Arg. Food that does not have a good presentation. 2. m. Arg. disorder (confusion). 3. m. Come. lasagna (dish made up of layers of pasta).

Which confirms that we actually use the word pasticho only in Venezuela to refer to the preparation that we all already know and which is the subject of this article. Many authors describe that its origin comes from a misunderstanding with the Italians when they arrived in Venezuelan lands after the Second World War, but in the following letters we will realize that perhaps this was not the case.

The origin of lasagna.

The word lasagna , derived from the Italian lasagna, has Latin origin lasănum 'kitchen trivet', 'pot', and this from Gr. λάσανον lásanon , a word that was used in reference to a type of pot where flour dough is cooked with meat juices.

Lasagna , like many other dishes from different gastronomic cultures, has not been a static dish, it has undergone a long metamorphosis since its beginnings in Roman times. In those times this consisted only of square or rectangular shaped sheets of flour with water, filled with meat that were cooked in the oven with condiments such as milk, cinnamon and sugar. It was a dish that was served on opulent and high society tables, since the lower classes did not have access to that type of artifact. Cheese will not appear in its list of ingredients until approximately the 11th century, when it is recorded for the first time in a recipe book from La Corte Angioina di Napoli, called Liber di Coquina . And it will not be until 1881 that the appreciated tomato, a fruit of the Americas, appears in its preparation, as part of the list of ingredients in the Principe dei cuochi or the vera cucina napoletana by Francesco Palma, at this time is when the first record is found. that the ragout, which is nothing more than a slow and prolonged cooking preparation of any type of ground or very finely chopped meat, has tomatoes among its ingredients.

There are as many types of Italian lasagna (we will not talk about their similar ones from other latitudes) as there are regions, or we could say, as there are towns in Italy. For example, one of the best known is the Bolognese green lasagna , from Bologna, where thin sheets of egg pasta mixed with spinach, are sandwiched between layers of ragù, with tomato and bechamel sauce, in the mountains this one can also have mushrooms, in Liguria, pesto, in Venice, purple radicchio, in Umbria and Le Marche it is known as Vincigrassi, where the filling has pork and chicken entrails, in the Apennine area the ragù is replaced by a filling of porchini mushrooms, truffles and pecorino cheese. Going south in Sicily you can find its version called a la norma, with slices of eggplant.

As if this is not enough, in Italy there is also a debate about the place of its creation and it is disputed between the north in Bologna, capital of the Emilia Romagna region, and the south in Naples, capital of the Campania region, battle that has existed for years since the time of the Romans and that to this day has not been resolved.

If you want to know more about this long history you can visit this article published on the Bienmesabe magazine portal where Carlos Pompeo, student of the anthropoflavors diploma, dives deeply into this topic from his point of view.

How lasagna was transformed into pasticho

Although many authors coin the term Pasticho to a translation error at the time of the arrival of Italian migration after the Second World War, it is possible that this is not the origin of this word. For many centuries there have been records of a preparation called pasticcio . Apicio , a 1st century gourmet and supposed author of the book De Re Coquinaria, already speaks in his manuscript of a lagana of subtle sheets of pasta with meat, although later in the preparation it is It resembles more a pasta and meat pasticcio a la rinfusa , a dish that today has also evolved into macaroni pasticcio , a preparation that has a hard wheat dough wrapper and that inside has a variety of ingredients from meatballs , short pasta, cheese and whatever you can think of, literally a pastry . However, it is very interesting to see that currently in areas such as Padova in the Venetto region, preparations with the same structure as lasagna are called pasticcio and this test shows this.

This last fact could lead us to infer that perhaps pasticho arrived in Venezuela earlier than we imagined, thanks to emigrants at the beginning of the republic.

Although we will not be able to define with certainty where the name comes from, we are sure that we will not stop eating it, even if we are outside of our beloved Venezuela since its flavor is loaded with memories. It is so present on the current Venezuelan table that it managed to sneak into the menus of any arepera in the country, because it is a complete dish that is easy to prepare, with a very rich flavor and that, due to the simplicity of its ingredients, was very accessible to Venezuelan families.

Traditional Venezuelan pasticho is very similar to lasagna Bolognese except for pasta with spinach, which is the most popular lasagna recipe around the world. It consists of sheets of egg pasta interspersed with ground meat sauce with tomato sauce and bechamel, and Parmesan cheese preferably in the last layer so that it is well gratin after spending 40 minutes in the oven. However, our pasticho is not very far from Italian lasagna and since it also has many variants depending on each house, some add ham, others add mozzarella and there are those who make them with chicken or fish, there are also versions with sheets of eggplant instead of pasta, it all depends on the taste and seasoning of each Venezuelan home.

Where to get the best pasticho in the United States

In the United States we find lasagna with versions similar to ours or with the addition of mozzarella cheese between its layers, but without a doubt it will never have the same flavor as the pasticho of our childhood.

Fortunately, there are several emigrants who, in search of a better future, decided to start selling pastichos that, with the help of MamaFoods , can now reach the entire territory of the United States. This is shipped frozen and ready to bake, without fear of the product being damaged since it travels in cellars with dry ice and gel packs to maintain its temperature during the journey that normally lasts 1 to 3 days. If you have questions about our shipping policies you can review them here .

One of them that we can recommend is Il Mercatto with a wide variety of flavors, from the most traditional like this meat pasticho that comes in 3 presentations to adjust to the number of diners, to versions for people with special dietary requirements like this lasagna . Keto and gluten free bolognese that uses palm heart slices instead of wheat pasta.

Also, if you like more complex flavors, we can recommend this delicious truffed mushroom pasticho that comes in 2 presentations and is part of CasaBoom 's wide repertoire of ready-to-heat homemade products .

So if you feel like it, don't hesitate to use our services and enjoy a delicious Venezuelan pasticho and any other craving you have at your doorstep .