Historical Events  Geography

Tomato sauce originated in Italy

Tomato sauce originated in Mexico

Where did tomato sauce originate?

Pizza, Spaghetti, Lasagne, Tortellini... what do they all have in common? Tomato of course! So when you think of where the first tomato sauces came from, you'd be forgiven for assuming it must have been Italy.

However, that's not the case - it was Mexico, and the earliest documented use is a recipe from 1540. This was taken to Spain shortly afterwards by Bernardino de Sahagún, a Franciscian friar.

The first country to use tomato sauce with pasta was Italy, and that's used in a recipe from 1692, and the first recorded use in France is at the relatively later date of 1807.


The original word for tomato was the Aztec xitomatl. 

The origin of tomato sauce is also told in legend:

Originally known as a love remedy, the tomato sauce was to replace the pepper preserve, giving rise to an infinity of dishes among them the "sugo" or "salsa al pomodoro", or the celebrated Neapolitan pizza. The first "tomato sauce" was born on a summer night, which was meant to be a night of love. Vexed for the continuous refusals of a maid, the young d'Avalos marquis picked three "pommes d'amour" from the garden, crushed and mixed them with the leftovers of the onions and herbs lightly fried in oil. The red fruit coming from the New World was believed to be a love potion.

The gluttonous maid ate the dish. The youth then seized her, thinking he would find no resistance whatsoever. Alas, he received a blow with a frying pan on his head. While he was rising back on his feet, completely stunned, the maid was safe in her room.

He was desolate. Staring at the leftover on the table, he tasted a bit. In an instant he devoured it all. That mysterious flavors had conquered him. The next day he ordered his cook to serve him a sauce with pommes d'amour.