Memories of an ancient Romagna – Sale & Pepe – Italian Cuisine


191308It will be the age, the season or the holidays that are coming but, I admit, my relationship with the broth has changed. Never too much loved in the past, relegated to Christmas days and drunk in small quantities to the cry of “more tortellini and less broth”, as my children did as children. Now everything has turned upside down and I appreciate it in the form and substance of a rich and invigorating food, naturally made with excellent meat and with all the appropriate rules. To drink like this but, better still, enriched with fresh egg pasta: maltagliati, quadrucci, tagliolini or patacucci from Romagna, strichetti, passatelli, soup in the Imola bag, gross spoja and cappelletti, especially lean ones. Yes, you will say, why don't I mention the tortellino? Because we always talk about this master of the holidays, but where Emilia ends and Romagna begins, the music changes and stuffed pasta is called cappelletto, distinguishing itself from its Emilian cousin for a larger casing, with abundant filling, which demonstrates opulence and reaffirms, once again, that Emilia and Romagna, although geographically united, are two different peoples.

Together with the many territorial variants of the fat cappelletti, where the meat filling varies between western and eastern Romagna and also the seasoning, there is one of lean which is the oldest (first written mention of 1811) in which culture is alive pastoral and peasant and the filling is a delicate blend of cheeses. These were the cappelletti that were prepared on Christmas Eve for the next day, without meat. Eggs, nutmeg, grated Parmesan, ricotta and an unripe cheese such as raviggiolo or squacquerone entered the “compensation or battuto”, that is, the filling. Form the "caplèt“It was a choral work, you had to hurry so that the pastry did not dry out, then a linen cloth covered them waiting to end up in the mixed broth of beef and capon the next day. Secondly, on Christmas evening or on Boxing Day, those left to cook, after having been forced to pass in the broth, were drained and seasoned with a ragout of poultry giblets used for the broth itself. It could also happen that someone, not by chance, ended up in the dish a "caplitaz", a cappellettaccio, three times bigger than normal and whose filling was made up of pasta alone or contained a peppercorn or a grain of corn. It was all piloting the azdòra who, slyly, sent messages and only those who received them could interpret them. Once the preparation of the cappelletti was finished, in many peasant houses, with a long and thin skewer, a caplèt, called the "sintiröl", Which the older person toasted by the fireplace and then ate: it was a sacrifice on the altar of the gods of the house, the arola. We have news of this rite still in 1952.

Then the family went to Mass and on Christmas day there was a big party. The prefect of Forlì described it in 1881: “Every family makes a pasta soup with a ricotta filling which is called cappelletti. The greed for this soup is so general that everyone, and especially the priests, makes bets as to who eats a greater quantity and some get to the number of 400 or 500 ". Of course, there was a lot of hunger and only one Christmas, but the delicacy of this soup has remained unchanged over time. Adelmo Masotti, author in 1996 of the Romagnolo-Italian vocabulary and I believe a good card player, said: "a ës e caplèt uns dis mai d’nò": you never say no to aces and cappelletti. And I, who don't play cards, will dedicate myself only to this Romagna soup, sure that it will make my Christmas enjoyable. Unless I get a "caplitaz".

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