Traditional Alfredo Sauce Didn't Actually Have Cream In It

Oh, for the love of pasta. It doesn't matter if it is penne, spaghetti, macaroni, or fettuccine; there is something about the simple, heavy, doughy dishes that screams comfort and satisfaction. Of course, you have to pair them with the proper sauce. That is part of the beauty of pasta

l;p–dishes. For culinary professionals and home cooks alike, pasta presents a blank canvas on which they can release their inner artist. When you add in the melting pot that is American food culture, it shouldn't be a great surprise that many of the dishes we hold near and dear have wandered away from their traditional roots.

Classic marinara has morphed from its original combination of just three ingredients — olive oil, garlic, and tomatoes -– into a multidimensional sauce (via chef to the stars Denise Macuk). Alfredo has also wandered astray from the sauce that initially held that name. Let's take a closer look at Americas's favorite pasta sauce (via the American Post), Alfredo. 

The birth of fettuccine al burro

It may sound odd, but according to Alfredo di Roma's history, the magnificent sauce we call Alfredo was born out of a man's love for his wife. It seems that in 1908, Alfredo di Lelio's wife had given birth to their first child and was having a difficult time keeping food down and regaining her strength. Alfredo, who worked in his mother's restaurant at the time, developed a simple dish that he hoped would deliver much-needed energy to his wife.

He combined three simple ingredients: fresh fettuccine, butter, and loads of Parmesan cheese, in the hope that she would be able to retain her food. He prepared this dish and then offered prayers to St. Anna before giving it to his wife. His prayers were answered, and then some with the birth of fettuccine al burro (via Italy Magazine), also known as fettuccini alfredo.

Not only did his wife regain her health, but the new dish was a big hit with his mother's patrons. The fame of Fettuccine Alfredo and its creator quickly spread, and in 1914, according to his grandson, he opened his own restaurant, "Alfredo."

The cream of the crop

For obvious reasons, Alfredo's comforting pasta dish was a featured item in his new restaurant, and it quickly became a hit. The dish and the restaurant became so well known that two of Hollywood's biggest stars visited while on their honeymoon in Rome just to give it a try.

Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford were so impressed that they asked for the recipe, and Alfredo was gracious enough to share it with them (per Alfredo di Roma's history). In return, they gifted Alfredo with the gold tableware inscribed with, "To Alfredo the King of the noodles."

It was Fairbanks and Pickford who brought the dish back to U.S. shores. According to Today, the dish quickly found a home in the U.S. and became a staple of Italian restaurants throughout the country. American chefs being American, they quickly made modifications to the recipe, and soon cream became a common ingredient.

As chef Shea Gallante told Today, "It got adapted to the western world where heavy cream was incorporated, and it kind of lived here as a dish of butter, heavy cream, and parmesan." Oddly, he also noted that egg yolks were also often added to create a richer form of this creamy pasta dish.