The Tortellini building process

The Tortellini building process: where knowledge, expertise and cooperation create excellent value chains

It’s very easy to say tortellini. And also to eat them! But it takes someone, duly skilled, who takes care of their preparation. Actually it has to be admitted that they require a quite long and complex work that cannot be improvised without compromising the quality of the final result.

Tortellini is a delicious dish of ancient tradition, mentioned from the historians since the XIInd  century, whose birthplace is in the Emilia Romagna region, although there is still a dispute between the cities of Modena and Bologna. The inspiration of its shape by the Venus navel is part of the legend that enhances its fascination and entrapment.

Nowadays tortellini are renown and appreciated all over the world, thanks to the evolution of the conservation techniques, that enabled their diffusion at global level, since their first exhibition at the Los Angeles fair in 1904. The industrial production has allowed their distribution in supermarkets, but the unique taste of the handmade product is difficult to be reproduced within an industrial context, and it is still considered of great value both by the Bologna citizen and by the Italian Academy of cookery, so that in 1974 they registered the authentic old recipe at the Chamber of Commerce of Bologna. In so doing they intended to protect it from the large number of its variants, especially from the most eccentric ones, that upset the original and un unmistakable taste and concept of the dish.

The strength of the product depends not only on the quality and calibration of the ingredients, but also on the preparation process that is made by many stages: the thin sheet of pasta made of flour and eggs (1mm thick) rolled out with a roll-pin, the size of the squares (3cm by 3cm) into which the sheet of pasta has to be split, the special filling to be stuffed in each square, the square folding and sealing, pressing along the edges and rolling it with fingers to obtain the typical navel shape, the capon or hen broth used to cook and eat them.

Considering that the full preparation takes time, to speed up the process often all the family members are engaged, each with a specific important role: the grandmother is the recipe “purveyor of knowledge”, she knows and passes down all the details and little tricks influencing the final success of the dish; mother prepares the filling and uses her energy and skill to roll out the sheet of pasta, the children observe, comment and collaborate at the tortellini sealing, eager for eating them even before cooking (they are already delicious) with the pretext that they have some defect. In this way tradition is handed down from generation to generation, the family links are strengthen and working in group can be experienced.

It can be outlined that the tasks that until few years ago were exclusively performed by women (the so called “sfogline”), now often involve also men; moreover the increasing appreciation of genuine food done in a workmanlike manner, is triggering the proliferation in Bologna of new workshops, specialized in selling fresh pasta and tortellini to not native citizens, tourists and everyone who has not time to prepare them by himself.

The registered recipe:

For about 1000 tortellini For the broth
Fresh past made by 3 eggs and 300gr flour 1kg beef
300 gr. pork loin ½ Farmyard cappone or hen
300 gr. raw ham Celery
300 gr. Mortadella of Bologna Carrot
450 gr. Parmisan cheese Onion
3 chicken eggs Salt
Nutmeg flavor