Ask Dan #9

Q: Why is tortellini shaped so strange?

A: Food question! And Italian food, no less! Way to go, Chris. Let’s see if I can address this in a coherent manner…

After looking into the matter, I’ve discovered that there are several vaguely similar theories creating a a basic mythological story. Essentially, a peeping-Tom innkeeper peered through the keyhole to check out a beautiful woman. With only candle light in the room, and his narrow field of vision through the keyhole, he was only able to see her belly button. To the innkeeper, this was still – apparently – so marvelous that he rushed off to the kitchen to create a piece of pasta that would remind him of his voyeuristic escapade.

Not quite the rustic explanation I was expecting 🙂 Either way, tortellini is my favorite stuffed pasta, and will forever remind me of the finest meal I consumed in Rome – Tortellini alla Panna con Prosciutto Crudo – cheese-filled tortellini in a cream sauce with chopped ham. Wow, it was good.

That’s it! Remember to post questions for next week’s Ask Dan in the comments section.


4 thoughts on “Ask Dan #9

  1. Tortellini is a common heritage of the Italian culture; in the past, though, it was disputed between the cities of Modena and Bologna, that contended its origins. The story of tortellini, indeed, was invented by the 18th century poet, Guiseppe Ceri, who wrote a short poem, inspired by ”La secchia rapita“, by Tassoni: Venus,Mars and Boccaccio, chosen to give assistance to the people in Modena, went to sleep in a inn in Castefranco Emilia, on the way between Bologna and Modena. Here, Venus was caught naked by the host, who wanted to reproduce her navel with pasta, in order to remember her beauty forever. The Emilian speciality par excellence is not only beautiful but also delicious and it became popular amongst Italian people.

  2. Oi.1. This isn’t “Ask Dan, then augment his answer with your own” :-)2. You provided a specific example of the mythology that involves ancient Roman gods. The specific gods, and whether it was even Venus or just some beautiful woman are disputed.3. The “truth” is probably much more boring. Many pasta shapes have mundane or practical origins, or were created for simple abstract decoration.So there, I’ve “answered” your own answer, smart Alec 😉

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