April 26, 2012

Bolognese Stuffed Pasta: the Tortellino

Of the tasty morsels that make up Bolognese cuisine, one of the most famous worldwide is the tortellino

Tortellino (left) and Tortelloni (right)

According to the legend, Venus, Mars, and Bacchus were travelling and stopped at a local inn near Bologna for the night.  The next morning, when Venus woke up late, she started calling for Mars and Bacchus, who had already left the inn for the day to do some business.  When the innkeeper heard the ruckus Venus was causing, he clambored up the stairs to check on her.  However, the door was locked so he peeped through the keyhole to see what was the matter.  While doing so, he caught a glimpse of her belly button and was so inspired by its perfection that he went down to the kitchen and created a pasta to resemble it that very night.  Thus, tortellini were born!

Tortellini are the smallest of the stuffed pastas, among which there is also the tortelloni and tortellacci which are also native to Bologna and the surrounding Emilia-Romagna region.  Tortellini generally weigh around 2 grams each, and are most often filled with a mixture of parmesan and different meats, often local prosciutto and/or mortadella. These little morsels are usually served in brodo, which means in broth, a dish commonly found in Bologna, especially during the chilly winter months.

Although tortellini is claimed to be a Bolognese product, the nearby town of Modena also claims to be the home of the tortellini.  Tortellini are rumored to have been created in Castelfranco Emilia, a town which was once a part of Bologna, but now part of Modena which explains why the tortellino’s birthplace is contended between Bologna and Modena.

Whether or not you are eating Bolognese or Modenese tortellini (or can even tell the difference), tortellini are always a scrumptious choice when meal time rolls around!

by D.R. (intern @ Taste of Italy)

Note: For more information about the differences between the tortellino and the tortelloni follow this link.

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