International Tortellino Day February 13th and The Brotherhood of The Tortellino

tortellini bolognese

The humble tortellini is celebrated on February 13th of every year. But Tortellini Day is no ordinary day for a group calling themselves ‘The Brotherhood of the Tortellino’.

The Brotherhood of the Tortellino hale from Bologna, Italy, and are a group dedicated to preserving the original traditional recipe for tortellini. They were officially founded on October 24th, 1965, before notary Dr. Gallerani. It all started when Giovanni Poggi (an industrialist who in his spare time, shared the traditions of Bolognese cooking traditions), took umbridge at Modena’s claim that it was the origin of the tortellini. So he, along with a number of his friends, including the founder Alessandro Cervellati, created the ‘brotherhood’. Their motto:

“In Studio, in mensa, bononia docet”

The whole purpose of the Brotherhood, was to ensure the purity of Bolognese cuisine and that of Emilia Romagna in general. In particular, the image of the tortellino has become a symbol that represents the authenticity of Bolognese food and culture. To this end, the Brotherhood, together with the Italian Academy of cookery, registered the authentic recipe in a deed executed before a notary on December 7th, 1974. Within the recipe are the parameters set for making the broth in which to serve the tortelloni.

While all of this may seem bizarre to some of us, it is extremely important that the history of our food is recorded in this way, in order that those of us who do not live in Bologna, Italy, can enjoy tortelloni in broth exactly as it was intended. What you do to create recipes is entirely up to you. However, here at Pasta Nostra USA, we love to create pasta as authentically Italian as possible. We feel therefore, that groups like the Brotherhood of the Tortelloni are extremely important to us.

As well as securing the recipe of the tortelloni, on April 15th, 2008, the Brotherhood ensured that all of the characteristics that make Bolognese tortelloni unique and unmistakable, were preserved and included as follows:

  • The typical and original shape
  • The particularity of the filling
  • The natural genuineness of the dough
  • The weight of each tortellino

There are many frequently asked questions regarding the preparation of tortellino:

  • Must the filling be raw or cooked?
    • The orginal recipe calls for the fillings to be cooked although there are inmumerable variations and preferences. Many people prefer the filling to be raw as it is believed to give more flavour and is more easily digested. Also, as the raw filling cooks, it imparts flavour into the pasta.
  • Must the size of the tortellino be large or small?
    • Each tortellino should weigh 5 grams.
  • Egg or eggless pasta?
    • Your pasta should be for every 3 ounces of flour, combine 3 eggs.
  • How thick should the pasta dough be?
    • Generally, the pasta dough should be at least 3mm thick which is very thin. Thin enough to see through. The original recipe also asks that the pasta dough be well amalgamated and rested for at least 24 hours before forming into tortellino.

We understand that if you have never made tortellino before, then the journey may take a while. We have formed different styles of tortellino ourselves and believe that while the Brotherhood is not in our kitchen, then we can be forgiven for not getting it all exactly right. However, we would love to know that pasta lovers everywhere will be creating tortellino and serving it up in a wonderful, aromatic broth on February 13th. That would be the day before St. Valentine’s Day! What better way to demonstrate your love than with a bowl of Tortellini in Brodo! Can I hear “a tavola!”

The Original Recipe

The History

Other stuff to know about Tortellino

  • Ravioli, tortellini, tortelloni, umbellico and tortellacci are all part of the same family of stuffed pasta.
  • Tortelloni are larger than the bite-sized tortellini. The way to describe the difference is that tortelloni can be formed around your forefinger and tortellini can be formed around your small finger.
  • The most common fillings for tortellini are ham, white meat, and Parmesan cheese.
  • The oldest recorded tortellini recipe dates back to 1570.
  • An app has been created by a group of young graphic designers from Modena, Italy teaching people how to make tortellini.

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