The history of mortadella is full of legends and funny anecdotes.
According to a false belief, mortadella is prepared with donkey meat.

This superstition is based on an episode that happened in 1706, when Jean-Baptiste Labat, a French Dominican missionary who studied ethnography, arrived in Bologna.
Mortadella drew his attention immediately, since he found it delicious. Thus, he wanted to know the ingredients and the techniques used for its preparation, but he understood that it would not be easy. In fact, the Bolognese citizens were so jealous of their product that, in order to protect its authenticity, told Jean-Baptiste Labat lots of lies. Someone told him it was made with boar meat, while others with beef. However, he believed to those who told him that mortadella was prepared with the meat of the little donkeys.    

I believe that the story of the donkey meat is a story made for fun: it's true that the land around the city produces many donkeys, but they would definitely be extinct if they'd been used for so many sausages!

This anecdote, besides explaining the origin of an urban legend, shows us an interesting image of Bologna in the 18th century as well as the society in old times when there was no protection law on local products, secrecy and mystery and even lies were adopted to protect their precious local typicality.

Complete Calendar