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Historical Curiosities About the Origin of Tortellini

Tortellini makes up centuries of tradition for each Modena family who makes them on special occasions, using recipes handed down from generation to generation.

The origin of tortellini is rather curious and goes back to the early 1600s, when Alessandro Tassoni cited in his mock-heroic poem "La Secchia Rapita" (The Kidnapped Bucket), an episode involving Venus, Bacchus and Mars. These three gods returning from a battle between the cities of Modena and Bologna over a wooden bucket, decided to stop for the night at an inn called "Corona". The next morning Bacchus and Mars left the inn leaving Venus behind. When the goddess of love awoke and saw that she was left alone, she became terrified and rang the bell for help. The innkeeper came immediately to her aid. When he saw her still naked, he was so impressed by her voluptuous form, he returned to the kitchen where he was preparing a sheet of pasta dough. He decided to tear a piece, cut it into squares, stuff them with filling and then folded them around his finger to get the form which he called "Venus' Navel".

Of course, this is the legend while the reality is certainly more practical and less poetic. The housewife or expert "rezdora" as she was affectionately called, closed the tortellini to prevent the filling from leaking from the pasta into the broth during cooking.

The ritual of preparing the tortellini was celebrated a few days before a holiday at the home of a "rezdora" accompanied by her friends. With all these "rezdore" together, the preparation of tortellini became a real opportunity to socialize.