A History of Ravioli and My First Ravioli Container Candles

Although culinary food lore claims that Marco Polo introduced pasta to Italy after having visited the Far East, archeologists think that the ancient Italians may have made pasta as far back as the 4th century B.C. This mural from an Etruscan tomb is one of several that appears to be showing people producing and serving pasta.

This mural from an Etruscan tomb appears to show a man with a bowl of pasta.

There are currently over 600 different shapes of pasta that are made in Italy. Some were designed for use with sauces. Others were made to be used in soup or to bake.

Ravioli was created as a stuffed pasta. The term ravioli comes from the Italian word riavvolgere meaning “to wrap.” The earliest known recipe for riavolegere is a 14th century cookbook from Venice that featured a filling of herbs, cheese, and beaten eggs. The stuff pasta was then cooked in a flavorful broth.

Spinach ravioli from southern Tuscany

Today there are many types of ravioli that are produced in Italy. Each area has its own variations. In northern Tuscany, ravioli is stuffed with cheese and mashed potatoes while in southern Tuscany, this pasta is stuffed with spinach. Both types are served with either a vegetable or a meat sauce. In Abruzzo, an area that is east of Rome along the Adriatic coastline, the locals make a stuffed dessert pastas known as Tortelli dolci. This type of ravioli is stuffed with jam, chocolate, or even cream. In Le Marche, ravioli is stuffed with Swiss chard and cheese mixed with lemon juice.

In the United States, Italian cuisine was popularized by Chef Boiardi. In 1924 this Italian immigrant opened a restaurant in New York City called Il Giardino d’Italia. His Marinara sauce became so popular that he began reusing glass milk bottles to store and sell this sauce. In 1928 he launched a company that began producing ready to cook spaghetti kits that included uncooked pasta, Marinara Sauce, and a container of grated parmesan cheese. To help people with correctly pronouncing his name, he named his company “Boy-Ar-Dee”.

In 1943 as part of our effort in World War II, the Boy-Ar-Dee company was contracted by the U.S. government to produce canned spaghetti with sauce for U.S. military C rations. These rations were in such great demand that the factory employed five thousand workers to work in shifts around the clock. At the height of its wartime production, the Boy-Ar-Dee factory produced a quarter of a million cans of spaghetti each day.

In 1946 Chef Boiardi sold his company to American Home Foods. This company subsequently expanded the company’s product line and began producing a variety of canned pasta that included spaghetti with meatballs, beefaroni, and ravioli. They also did away with the phonetic spelling of Boy-Ar-Dee and renamed the company as Boyardee.

The Boyardee brand is currently owned by ConAgra Foods which continues to produce Chef Boyardee canned pasta. Each canned food label still carries the chef’s iconic image.

Thanks to Chef Boiardi, most Americans are familiar with agnolotti which is a type of ravioli from the Piedmont region of Italy. This pasta features small squares of flattened pasta dough that are folded over a filling of meat or vegetables.

Ravioli comes in a surprising variety of shapes. Here are just a few variations.

In Lombardia which is the region of northern valleys that border Switzerland, ravioli is often produced as casoncelli which are shaped like half moons. Commonly used fillings include roasted meat, pears, currants, grana cheese, crumbled amaretti biscotti (almond cookies) and garlic with parsley. This type of pasta is typically served with butter and sage.

On the island of Sardinia come these gorgeous pleated ravioli that were created to resemble the tip of wheat stalk. Popular fillings include goat meat or ricotta cheese made from sheep’s milk that’s mixed with eggs and saffron. Another type of filling features mashed potatoes mixed with either mint mixed with mint, oregano, or onions. After boiling this pasta in water, it’s served with a tomato and basil sauce and is garnished with aged pecorino cheese.

pumpkin cappellacci

The region of Emilia-Romagna is famous for its production of pumpkin cappellacci which is literally translated as “ugly hats.” This pasta is made by first forming a half moon shape. The pasta is then folded over to create the cappellacci pictured above.

production test model for spaghetti with meatballs and pizza

Although I have previously made a spaghetti and pizza candle, I discontinued production after making the above prototype because the form was just too short to be practical as a candle. Since I have been wanting to make a Marinara sauce candle, I initially thought it would be easier to mound ravioli with meatballs instead of using spaghetti.

These plans were dashed after my candle making supplier told me that they’ll be out of stock for the wax I need until February 25th at the earliest, I have been using my last remaining 40 lb. case of soy pillar wax to produce toppings for container candles.

Pictured below are my first production test models for a ravioli candle. To create the illusion that this container holds layers of ravioli, I alternated the simulated Marinara sauce with white wax. After pouring the top layer and letting it set, I added two wax ravioli to each candle. I then topped the pasta with sauce and garnished it with chopped “bell peppers”. The moist appearance was simulated through the use of medium density candle gel.

This candle smells of beef and Marinara sauce with tones of tomato, garlic, thyme, basil, oregano, and rosemary. Future variations could include cheese and the use of hot pepper fragrances. I could even make an Alfredo version, though a white sauce over white ravioli would not be as visually striking as the use of a red sauce.

Since each candle was hand crafted, each one is slightly different.

These candles will be listed with Made in Nevada sometime this coming Monday. Although I have had over 100 visits to my Etsy shop, no one has yet to buy anything. While each listing only costs 20 cents, these costs add up. It doesn’t make any sense to continue adding inventory to the Etsy store when no candles have been sold.

In contrast, Made in Nevada has no listing fees and they charge no sales commission. Membership and participation with the Made in Nevada is completely free for all businesses that are licensed in Nevada and are selling products that are actually made in this state.

The only drawback to using Made in Nevada is that all listings have to be approved by the webmaster. This typically takes no more than one business day. Insofar as it doesn’t cost me anything but time to post a listing, the fact that my listings can’t immediately go live as they do on Etsy is only a very minor inconvenience.

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