Mortadella must be made out of the most carefully selected quality meat, salt, pepper and peppercorn.
The particular sausage must go through a complicated producing process until its final appearance: cylindrical shape, the slice is pink with white cubes of fresh fat from the throat, the so-called lardons.
Its scent is unmistakable, slightly spicy, and its taste is balanced, thanks to the lardons that sweeten the flavour. It is an essential ingredient in tortellini stuffing, as well as in meatball’s mixture.
Mortadella may have origins in Roman Times. In the Archaeological Museum of Bologna, two carved Roman stele depict scenes of pig husbandry, including a worker pounding meat in a mortar. The name for mortadella originates from the Latin words for mortar (mortarium) and myrtle (myrtatum), given that in that period the typical process of preparing pork meat was to pound it using a mortar and pestle and flavour it with myrtle berries.
By the year 1000 the pig had such an importance in Emilia Romagna that forests were measured in the number of pigs they could support instead of in surface area. From this we can deduce that pork meat was a fundamental element in the diet of the local population.
The first complete recipe for mortadella appears in 1557 in “Libro Novo”, written by the Italian cook Cristoforo da Messisbugo. In his work the author asserts that mortadella is a kind of food suitable for banquets, wedding feasts and dinners for important people.
In 1661, in order to preserve the reputation of mortadella makers, the cardinal Farnese published an announcement that can be considered the first normative action for the protection of an Italian gastronomic specialty.
In the 19th century, thanks to the technological innovations introduced in its making process, mortadella started being produced and distributed on a large scale. Before that only wealthy nobles could afford it, since mortadella was even more expansive than ham.
Today mortadella represents such a distinguishing feature for the city of Bologna, that in some countries it is simply called “Bologna”.