Fettuccine Alfredo – the true story

Fettuccine Alfredo has a unique place in Italian cuisine. Until recently, this dish was not even on the menu of most Italian restaurants, while being extremely popular overseas. The story goes that in 1927, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, while on their honeymoon, frequented a restaurant on the Via della Scrofa in Rome. The stars immensely enjoyed one particular dish, called “fettuccine al burro”, and the owner of the restaurant, one Alfredo Di Lelio, shared with them his recipe that he supposedly developed in 1914, in order to restore the health and appetite of his wife, following childbirth. After Mary and Douglas returned to America, they freely shared the recipe with their friends and even published it in The Rector Cook Book. Apparently, the lack of tomato sauce contributed to the popularity of the pasta dish that was referred to by the Hollywood couple as “Fettuccine Alfredo.” The rest is history.

You will find this account in numerous books. It is generally omitted that fettuccine al burro is a dish that existed prior to 1914. The immortalized restauranteur merely came up with his own variation. I was able to find at least one mention of fettuccine al burro in the 19th century, namely in a weekly periodical La Nuova Rassegna (Jan. 7, 1894):

See also:
Italian cheese – words and flavors
Italian restaurants in Boston

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