A rich and famous dish.
Tortellini are a stuffed pasta, typical of Modena and known worldwide. They have a tasty stuffing wrapped up in a thin egg dough made by hands able to shape them in a particular shape that the legend reports to be Venus’s belly button.
The Modenese tradition makes tortellini a must for festivity meals, served in a steaming broth.
Today they are eaten more often , and over time variations with meat sauce and cream were also established.
How they are made.
The egg dough used to prepare tortellini is hand made.
To prepare it you need: “0” wheat flour, durum wheat semolina (a small portion to be added to “0” what flour), 8/12 eggs for 1 kg of flour.
The dough is rolled mechanically first and then with a wooden rolling pin. The dough is then cut into small squares of variable measurements , and filled with a bit of stuffing. The dough square is folded into a triangular shape and wrapped around the finger until it takes the shape of a belly button.
The stuffing is made with pork meat, raw ham, mortadella, Parmigiano Reggiano, eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
A nice story.
Modena and Bologna have been contending the paternity of tortellini for centuries. To end this dispute, a humorous publication of last century set the birth of tortellini at the border between the two provinces, in Castelfranco Emilia.
The legend says that a long time ago the host of the “Dogana” Inn saw the belly button of a dame he hosted through the door lock of her room. He was so impressed that he created a dish that reminded him of such a vision.
Another legend refers to the verses of the “Rape of the Pail” by Alessandro Tassoni and to a mythological fact: Venus , Bacchus and Mars were back from the battlefield and stopped at the “Crown Inn” to rest. On the following day Mars and Bacchus left early leaving Venus alone sleeping. When Venus woke up and didn’t see her friends anymore, she rang the bell by mistake because she was scared and the host who came to rescue her saw her naked and was impressed by her beauty. When the host was back to the kitchen, where he had prepared some dough, he cut a square of dough, stuffed it and wrapped it up around his fingertips shaping it like Venus’ belly button.
The truth is that probably a “rezdora” ( the woman who leads the house) made it. Shaping tortellini like that prevented the stuffing from coming out of the dough while cooking.
Pellegrino Artusi can be considered as the father of modern recipes of tortellini: in 1891 in his book “ Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well” he defined th standards for the production of this stuffed pasta.