“I don’t want to forget to inform you that the best sausages ever eaten are made in Bologna: you can eat them raw, you can eat them cooked, and at any hour they whet one’s appetite... Blessed be their inventor; I kiss and adore those virtuous hands.” – Ortensio Lando, 1548
Why is Bologna’s cuisine so famous? For its specialties – bologna sausage and tortellini – which have been well-known for centuries? In fact, ever since the Middle Ages, the city owes its nickname – grassa, or “fat” – not so much to any specific food, but rather to its conspicuous disposition for hospitality and its role as a significant trading centre where goods and foodstuffs (and therefore cultures) of various origins come together. Retracing the history of an array of delicacies, the author shows how the true character of Bolognese cuisine is the amalgamation of non-local elements: there is no “pure” tradition, and there are no original and unchanging recipes. What has turned Bologna into a major gastronomy capital is, on the contrary, its ability to represent all Italian cuisine.
Massimo Montanari teaches History of Food Habits at the University of Bologna and his works have been translated into many languages across the globe.