Un scherzo: Throw it at a bad opera singer at La Scala?
Italians would never be that rude at the opera or that wasteful. They knew the tomato was special as early as 1544 when Pietro Andrea Mattioli an Italian physician and botanist from the University of Padua included the tomato in his Discourse on Material Medicine where he discussed the tonic and magical powers of the pomo d’oro or “golden apple”.
However it wasn’t until 1839 that the tomato met pasta in Italy when Ippolito Calvacanti, the Duke of Buonvicino, published a cookbook with a recipe for vermicelli co le pomodoro made with crushed tomatoes and the leftovers of onions and herbs from the garden, lightly fried in oil creating the first tomato sauce. And here it is, roughly translated.
Take 4 “rotoli” ( unit of measurement used in Naples equal to .861 kg) (2.760 kg) of tomatoes, cut them in a cross, take out the seed and water, boil them, and when they are melted, pass them through a sieve, and that sauce let it condense over the fire, adding one third (gr.275) of suet, or lard. When the sauce is dense, boil 2 “rotoli” (1.380 kg) of vermicelli, very green (a typical Neapolitan expression to mean “al dente”) and drain well, put them in the sauce with salt and pepper, keeping them on the heat of the fire so they dry a little. Every now and then turn, and when they are well seasoned serve them.