Bolognese culinary traditions: mortadella
Of extremely ancient origins, its influence was such in the culinary history of the region that nowadays, it is possible to admire two Roman steles that depict a mortar and seven small pigs, at the Archaeological Civic Museum of Bologna.
The name ‘mortadella’ dates back to the Roman age and refers to the mortarium (mortar), a tool used since then to crush the pork meat and obtain a particular sausage.
The history of mortadella bolognese
Mortadella has very ancient origins and is likely the heir of part of the Roman food tradition.
The original recipe of mortadella was kept secret for a long time and guarded by the members of the Arte dei Salaroli, the only ones authorised to certify authenticity through a specific seal. Despite of the above, this cold cut was counterfeited so many times that, in the 17th century, Cardinal Girolamo Farnese decided to issue a ban with the purpose to regulate its trade.
It must be underscored that, in ancient times, mortadella was considered a particularly prestigious food, such that its price was about three times higher than prosciutto, until the great industrial revolutions took place.
Thanks to the subsequent student flow, mortadella became famous and popular throughout Europe, conferring prestige to the city of Bologna.
Mortadella Bolognese PGI
Since 1998, mortadella bolognese is a recognised as PGI mark (Protected in Name and Geographical Origin). Since then, only the productions that comply with the product specifications can boast the name ‘Mortadella Bologna’ and feature the PGI mark.
The production process is still based today on the ancient Medieval Salaroli’s method: with no taste enhancers or colouring agents, the final result of mortadella bolognese is mainly due to the quality of the cuts and meats used to produce it.
Indeed, the preparation of mortadella bolognese foresees a careful selection of high-quality cuts of pure pork, cooled and ground with a particular method in order to obtain a fine paste of full and balanced taste.
Once the mix is prepared, the mortadella just packed undergoes an accurate heat treatment that consists in letting it rest in particularly dry rooms, for a period that ranges from a few hours to a few days, according to the sizes. When the internal temperature of mortadella reaches 70°, it is wet in cold water and let it rest further in special cold cells, where it will be ready to be packed and sold.
The final aspect is a cold cut of oval shape and pink colour that certainly stands out for its intense and slightly spiced aroma.
How do you recognise mortadella bolognese PGI?
In addition to the name Mortadella Bologna PGI indicated on the label, there are various characteristics thanks to which it is possible to distinguish the authentic mortadella bolognese from many imitations sold in supermarkets.
First of all, the colour: the original mortadella bolognese stands out for the intense pink and well contoured grease, sign of the high quality of the meats selected for production. A pale or grey tone indeed, is a sign of the poor quality of the cuts.
Another particularly distinctive sign of the genuineness of mortadella is the scent: the authentic mortadella bolognese boasts an intense aroma that immediately stands out.
Lastly, the taste: the original mortadella bolognese is characterised by a compact texture and full and well balanced taste.