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The History of the Frittata


The Frittata is sometimes called the Italian version of an omelette. A Frittata is usually cooked in a skillet, browned on the bottom and then either flipped and browned or finished in an oven.

The fillings can be endless possibilities. meat , cheese, vegetables, potatoes or pasta.

A Frittata is most often a breakfast item in the United States but can be eaten for any meal , either hot or cold.




What about the name Frittata?

Dishes like the Frittata have probably been around for centuries.The name comes from the Italian verb "friggere" which means to fry.

Other sources say that the word Frittata means something like a mess or even someone who is a bit nuts. hai fatto una frittata ,”which loosely translated means : you've made quite a mess.

The Frittata has often been called an Italian open faced omelette

When did the Frittata originate?

One interesting thing about Frittata is that you won't find it on many menus in Italy according to the website Dellalo. My chef friend Peter Pizzati of Italian decent said her Italian grandmother never formally made a Frittata, it was something you would throw together with leftovers if for instance you had a bad hangover or a snack. It is not something that would be considered formal fare.

There is no definitive facts on when and who created the Frittata.

You would think that as soon as the "pan" was invented, simple egg dishes like a Frittata or Omelette would have been invented. Eggs were always handy and inexpensive to most farm dwellers. This may be why we don't know. As Janet Clarkson pointed out in her article An Authentic Frittata, that some folks that write about Italian cooking say that the Frittata only exists in certain parts of Italy and not in some like Sicily, but this is not true because she has spent much time there, and concludes that it may be that it is such a common dish using this and that leftover that no one would write a definitive recipe.

The Frittata's roots may come from, Mesapotamia , Persia, to Spain, then Northern Africa, Italy and at the same time North to France and England.

Alan Davidson writes in The Penguin Companion to Food pp 659 that since we are finding out many of our favorite dishes had their beginnings in Persia which is close to the fertile crescent, that it most likely started with their version called Ku Ku and moved to Spain where it morphed into the Spanish Tortilla which is mostly layered sliced fried potatoes and the egg base. This egg and potato omelet became popular in many countries spreading to Northern Africa, then probably made it's way to Italy where they put a nice Italian spin on it besides potato to make the frittata. From Spain Davidson feels it probably went north where the French in character refined it to where the eggs became the focal point and the filling often added and folded in to make it fancy and called it an Omelette. The egg dish continued to go north to England and beyond and many variations developed. Practicallyu every country has their own version.

Persian KuKu

Spanish Tortilla (Omelette)

The fluffy omelette is a refined version of an ancient food. According to Alan Davidson, the French word omelette came into use during the mid-16th century, but the versions alumelle and alumete are employed by the Ménagier de Paris (II, 5) in 1393. Rabelais (Pantagruel, IV, 9) mentions an homelaicte d'oeufs, Olivier de Serres an amelette, François Pierre La Varenne's Le cuisinier françois (1651) has aumelette, and the modern omelette appears in Cuisine bourgoise (1784). More about the omelette here


Vintage Recipes

Fried Cabbage "Sicilian Style" (Fritatta)

The frittata is an open faced vegetable omelet of Spanish and Italian origin. The Sicilians brought many vegetable versions of this dish to Louisiana in the 1800s. This wonderful cabbage frittata recipe is from the kitchen of "Mama Fresina" and was shared with us by Frank and Linda Fresina of Fresina Pasta Company in Baton Rouge. It can always be found on their Thanksgiving and other holiday tables.

Frittata in Riccioli

This is from an early 1900's Italian cookbook that is thin spinach frittata that is cut into noodles afterward and becomes a base for something like a veal stew.


Other Recipes

Frittata with fresh veg, potatato, and cheese

Peter Pizzati's Frittata
from the Potluck Cook's Club


Zucchini Frittata

Chicken Frittata with Noodles



Asparagus Frittata


Life in Abruzzo

Simple onion stem frittata




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Last updated February 8, 2013