The “tortellino” is quite rightly the symbol of Bologna’s cuisine, because it combines the inimitable flagrance of rolled pasta with the flavour of a rich filling: all the specialties of Bologna’s cuisine are captured in a single mouthful. But how did tortellini come into being. legend has that it that the “tortellino” was modelled on Venus’s belly button. The creation of this cuilinary delight in the Po valley region was undoubtedly encouraged by a tradition which became popular in the Middle Ages in this area – of handrolled egg pasta and the eating of meat broth, a common usage that derived from the presence of a thriving cattle, poultry and capon raising industry. Nor should we underestimate the ubiquity of pigs, whose meat came to play an increasingly dominant part in the composition of the filling. Later, in the 14th and 15th centuries, the numerous recipes that have come down to us testify to the existence of a thoroughly acceptable filling in which mortadella achieves its apotheosis. Yet it is not until the sixteenth century that we find a dish very similar to the present-day recipe, described in the Epulario by Giovanni Rosselli. However, up until the 19th century tortellini continued to be confined to the tables of the more affluent members of society, or a dish served up only on holidays. Today, the “tortellino” is a regular feature at almost every table and is enjoyed throughout the world.
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