Top 5 Things to Eat in Bologna
Tagliatelle alla Bolognese - The original Spag Bol. However ask for Spag Bol in Bologna and you should prepare yourself for exile! This dish is a combination of two Bolognese traditions coming together in perfect harmony: The ragu, which can also be found inside Lasagna, and the fresh egg pasta cut, strictly by hand, in varying lengths and widths. The main reason why the Bolognese do not make it with spaghetti is that spaghetti is originally from the south where durum wheat is the traditional flour used in the creation of pasta. In Bologna, where white flour grows, the traditional pasta is the combination of white flour with egg. The ragu also varies enormously, just leaving Bologna and traveling to the closet town you would find a very different ragu. I personally do not have a favorite and actually am happy that there are so many variations so that I have an excuse to try it everywhere!
Tortellini - The second dish which features the amazingly delicious fresh egg pasta typical of Bologna. This one has a very interesting story with regards to how it came to be: Legend has it that when the Pope's daughter, Lucrezia Borgia, visited the small town of Castelfranco Emilia, near Modena, the innkeeper was so captivated by her beauty that one night he peaked through the keyhole and all he saw was her navel. With time he would turn her navel into Tortellini. Having heard this go and look at an image of a (bolognese) tortellini and you will notice it does look somewhat like a navel. Wether this is true or not is unimportant as they are delicious and can be found in any restaurant in Bologna. Traditionally served in a meat broth, the parcels can contain either cheese or meat.
Mortadella (otherwise known as Bologna) - If you think this guide has suddenly lost all credibility by mentioning Bologna let me just tell you that Mortadella is very different from the Bologna sold in supermarkets around the world. This is a a prized meat that has been recognized by the EU and given a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) rating. The first written evidence of something similar to Mortadella dates back to the 14th century much to the delight of the University of Bologna students who had been there since 1088! There is a big culture of cured meats in the region of Emilia Romagna however the bolognese are very proud of their Mortadella. Many times you will see them served alongside other regional favorites such as Parma's Prosciutto Crudo di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano.
Lasagna - Almost the same ingredients as in Tagliatelle al Ragu, however a whole new world of pleasure. Lasagna has many cities and towns claiming to be the inventors of this dish that has been loved the World over. Bologna's however are the ones I personally find to be the best. Bologna has established itself as the leaders in fresh pasta and bolognese sauce, both key ingredients in lasagna. Perhaps the inspiration for this dish came from Bologna's own architecture, it is not a far leap to see the lasagna as a tower of food created in honor of Bologna's own Two Towers by using the most traditional of bolognese recipes.
Gelato - While not originally from the region, Bologna still has contributed massively to the expansion and export of Gelato. Bologna based company Carpigiani led the way in the industrial side of gelato by creating machines that allowed many people to create delicious flavours anywhere in the world. Technology finally allowed Carpigiani to create the "hard-o-matic" that brought about a gelato revolution world wide. It is said that Carpigiani controls half of the world market for ice cream machines. However, back to eating, there are many gelaterias around Bologna that are made with fresh ingredients that are locally sourced especially refreshing in the spring and summer months when the shade from the beautiful porticoes just isn't quite enough.
Article by Leonardo Careddu