Pastitsada is a traditional dish from the island of Corfu in Greece. It is a rich and hearty stew made with meat, pasta, and a tomato-based sauce that is flavored with cinnamon and other spices. The dish has a long and interesting history that reflects the complex cultural influences that have shaped Corfu over the centuries.
The origins of Pastitsada can be traced back to the Venetian period of Corfu’s history, which began in the 14th century. During this time, Corfu was ruled by the Republic of Venice, and the Venetians brought with them a love of pasta and a tradition of hearty meat stews.
The Venetians also brought a spice called zimino, which was made from a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, and other spices. This spice blend was used in many Venetian dishes and soon became a staple of Corfiot cuisine as well.
The first written recipe for Pastitsada appeared in the 18th century in a cookbook called “The Art of Cooking” by Maria Ioannidou. This recipe called for beef or veal to be cooked with onions, garlic, tomato paste, red wine, and zimino, and then served with pasta.
Over time, the recipe for Pastitsada evolved to include other meats, such as rooster, and different types of pasta. The sauce also became richer and more complex, with the addition of herbs like bay leaves and thyme.
Today, Pastitsada remains a beloved dish in Corfu and is often served at special occasions like weddings and Easter celebrations. Many families have their own versions of the recipe, passed down through generations, and there are even annual Pastitsada festivals where locals compete to see who can make the best version of the dish.
In conclusion, Pastitsada is a delicious and satisfying dish that reflects the rich cultural history of Corfu. It is a testament to the enduring influence of the Venetians on Corfiot cuisine and a reminder of the many different cultures that have left their mark on this beautiful island over the centuries.