La Mortadella

“La Bologna”, nicknamed to pay homage to its hometown, has a rich history and tradition of craftsmanship.

Mortadella is a kind of large pink sausage, compact and cylindrical, made mainly out of finely chopped lean pork meat, with fat cut into cubes, all seasoned with sea salt, pepper, spices and often pistachio. The whole is put into a synthetic or natural casing, slowly cooked (up to 24 hours) and suspended by a string at about 75°C in an air oven. The diameter of mortadella ranges from 20 to 30 cm for a weight ranging from 10 to 30 kg, but you can find pieces that weigh up to 100 kg.

Mortadella has long been the icon of the classic country snack, in the middle of two nice slices of bread and accompanied by a good glass of wine (Chianti Italo Riserva in the shop for example). Considered as a very fatty sliced product, it is slightly salty when of excellent quality.

Mortadella di Bologna (link to the organic mortadella of Pedrazzoli in the shop) is a product certified IGP since 1998 but it is also produced in other regions of the north and center of Italy. The IGP admits two versions: with or without pistachio. In Bologna, the one without pistachio is preferred, as tradition dictates, but in central and southern Italy the pistachio version is very popular.

The origins of Mortadella Bologna IGP are to be found in the territories of the ancient Etruscan Felsina and of Bonomia dei Galli Boi, rich in oak trees which provided tasty acorns to the many local pigs, both wild and domesticated.
There are many hypothesis about the origin of the name Mortadella:

1) In the Archaeological Museum of Bologna the first evidence of what is believed to have been a producer of mortadella is preserved: a stele from the Imperial Roman period in which are depicted seven piglets on one side led to pasture and on the other a mortar with pestle. Since the mortar was used by Romans to pound and mix pork meat with salt and spices, it could be inferred that the name of this tasty specialty comes from “mortarium” or better from “murtatum” which means meat finely minced in a mortar.
2) Another version derives from the word myrtatum, the Latin term which designated myrtle (aroma used instead of the more precious pepper) which was one of the ingredients of a sausage called, for this reason, farcimen myrtatum. Farcimen myrtatum was already known and widely appreciated, as Pliny the Elder (23-79 A.D.) and Varro (116-27 B.C.) both mentioned it.

What is the first real recipe for mortadella?

It was given in the first years of the 17th century by the agronomist Vincenzo Tanara with precise indications about the ingredients and a much higher quantity of fat than today.
In 1661, Cardinal Farnese issued a proclamation which codified the production of mortadella, providing one of the first examples of disciplinary similar to the current ones of DOP and IGP certifications.
A couple of centuries ago, Mortadella di Bologna was a product reserved to an elite of gourmets, nobles and rich bourgeoisie who could afford a cured meat with a high price, even higher than ham. It is only after the gradual development of the charcuterie industry, which began in the 19th century, that it became a product accessible to everyone.

How to taste it?

Cut in thin slices (cut with a good slicer or with a sharp knife made by an expert charcuterie expert) and add on pizzas, bruschettas, breadsticks, croutons or focaccias; on top of a pan-cooked egg, stuffed with fresh cheese (ricotta, stracchino, etc.), served with pistachios, walnuts or pine nuts; with figs.
Cut in cubes can be added to salads; for aperitifs; alone or with a skewer of cheese and vegetables.
Grinded can instead be added to sauces, ravioli or tortellini Bolognese fillings, savory pies, meat rolls.

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