When we talk about classic sauces for pasta, we are speaking Italian. Certainly a more international approach to saucing pasta offers a larger scope, and some of those recipes appear in the Asian and ethnic sections of this book. But the basic Italian sauces that follow have entered into the Western lexicon of cooking and serve as points of departure for an untold number of more complex creations. This is not to imply that they are not complete and delicious in and of themselves. One of the glories of Italian cooking is its adaptability. It is seldom grouchily codified and generously makes room for improvisation. The following basic sauces will give you the vocabulary and facility you need to cook and enjoy pasta in an infinite number of ways.
The tomato came late to pasta, not until the seventeenth century and was a contribution from the New World, not the Old, returning to Europe from South America with the conquistadors. Now the marriage of tomato sauce and pasta seems preordained, for no two food elements are more suited to one another.