“Pesto” The Sauce of Roman Emperors

agostino's pasta sauce
This thick and creamy sauce is one of the favorite sauces from the Italian cuisine. Every day around the world thousands of pasta dishes are served with this unique flavored sauce. It became popular in the US in the 80’s and 90’s but its origin goes well back in history.

Few people have actually wondered about the origin of this delicious pasta sauce. The fact is that citizens of the Ancient Roman Empire already enjoyed the early version of pesto. They called it moretum because of the preparation process that involved raw garlic, salts, and cheese with other ingredients in a mortar. The Appendix Vergiliana is a collection of old poems from the 1st century and this is where moretum the predecessor of pesto, make its first appearance in history. The author of the Appendix talks about how many high rank politicians loved the sauce and some even thought it was an aphrodisiac.

The sauce survived the middle ages in the area of Genoa where a similar sauce called agliata emerged and was mostly made with crushed garlics and walnuts. Later in the mid-19th century the main ingredient of modern pesto, (basil) was added again in the area of Genoa. Since then it became very popular among the Italian population and was brought to the US by the Italian immigrants.

Today there are many variations of the original recipe, enthusiasts and experts claim that there is no comparison between a pesto made in a mortar and one made with other methods. Every time you eat a delicious plate of pasta with pesto think about how lucky you are as you enjoy an ancient recipe that Emperors from the Ancient Roman Empire loved almost two thousand years ago.