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What is the difference between marinara sauce vs spaghetti sauce vs tomato sauce?

Hello John,

I must tell you that in Italy we do not have anything called "marinara sauce". When in California and saw those jars by Barilla(an Italian brand) saying "marinara" I was wondering what it was! :)
I found out that it's a tomato sauce with also onion, garlic, parsley and oregano.
In Italy you usually use oregano on the pizza tomato sauce. So I realized why pasta over there tasted like pizza to me!!! :)
I guess it is some Italian/American thing that got mixed up.
In Italy in fact you call "marinara" something that has to do with fish. (In Italian sea is MARE)

Tomato sauce is a plain tomato sauce. Not sure what you are asking here.

Spaghetti sauce can be ANY type of sauce/seasoning for spaghetti to me. I have no idea what it means for an American.

I hope this helped.
If you have more questions feel free to ask!

Have a good day!


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Anything related to authentic NORTHERN Italian recipes. I do not do research, homeworks questions and I do not send postcards around the world. Thank you.


I am ITALIAN. I was born and still live around Milan.


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