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Balsamella or Besciamella is the Italian equivalent of the French Béchamel: a very
simple white sauce of flour and milk. The first recorded account of Béchamel sauce
is from by the French chef François Pierre La Varenne (1651). The tradition wants
it to be invented by the French financier Louis de Béchamel, marquis de Nointel.
But many think that “Balsamella” was originally from Tuscany with the name of “Salsa
Colla or Colletta” (glue) because of the gluey consistency of the sauce, and that
it was brought to France by the chefs of Catherina de’ Medici.
Balsamella (besciamella)is added of Parmigiano cheese, and optionally of nutmeg and
or white pepper. It is used in countless Italian recipes such as lasagna and cannelloni,
and in gratin of vegetables. The sauce can be prepared in advance and refrigerated.
To prevent it to form a skin on top, press on the surface a sheet of plastic wrap.