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Tortellino, the King of Bologna

Your trip to Bologna will be definitely a miss if you had no chance to enjoy the Tortellini, Bologna’s most famous dish, which is also globally adored and appreciated.

There is an ongoing dispute – since the 1800 to be precise – where Bologna and Modena fight nails and teeth to be acknowledged as the place where this pasta was originally conceived.

Some supportive grounds in favor of Modena see in its architecture similar rounded shapes which might have given inspiration for this kind of pasta.

Those reasons, although pleasant, are weak. A stronger and even more legendary reason helped identify Castelfranco Emilia as the place where the pasta was created.

The legend says that Venus the goddess descended from the Olympus to admire the beauties of the area and she sought hostel at inn in Castelfranco.

The innkeeper was so enchanted and impressed by her beauty that he started spying her through the keyhole: Venus, feeling uncomfortable, left and the innkeeper fainted.

When regaining consciousness, he looked for dough and made it a tortello and called it “Venus’s navel”. From that day onwards Castelfranco Emilia has become the kingdom of tortellini.

The name tortellino is the diminutive of torta which means “cake” as at the beginning they came as tiny unites of dough filled with cheese and resembling a cupcake; their bigger version is known as tortelloni, exactly the same element but in bigger sizes.

However, the first reference to this kind of pasta, appeared in the 1570 under the form of “torteletti” Vincenzo Tanara cookbook in the mid-17th century named them “tortellini”.

The pasta is traditionally stuffed with a mix of meat (pork loin, hem and mortadella) and the unmistakable Parmigiano Reggiano cheese; nowadays they are sold as fresh or industrially packaged, dried, refrigerated since over 10 million tons of this pasta are being sold abroad regularly.

A household name in the production of Tortellini, Giovanni Rana, has been also opening up pop-up where people in the US can have their own portion of tortellini on the go, so huge it’s the popularity of this dish.

Tortellini are usually cooked in and served with broth (especially during winter and if you feel feverish are the best thig to have) whereas tortelloni are boiled in water, stir-fried (traditionally with butter and sage) and served dry.

When having tortellini, you are having a piece of Venus and her immortal beauty. How mythology can ever be entwined with pasta? Pasta can get you anywhere! If you want to try them, join our food tour in Bologna!


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