How do I even begin to explain Bologna’s vibrant food scene? Seriously, I actually went clothing shopping pre-trip and bought an extra pair of jeans (in the next size up) and comfy stretchy pants because I knew I’d eat everything in sight upon arriving in Italy. In case you’re wondering if I succeeded in that goal, I most certainly did. However, I never felt bloated or lethargic after my meals and that’s probably because all the pastas, pizzas and breads I ate were handmade using local, organic ingredients. What’s even better? I actually cooked a few myself!
To be perfectly honest, I could eat pasta everyday and when I learned that most Italian’s do, I wondered how this is even possible. After speaking with my guide, Paola, she explained that besides the fresh-aspect and opting for olive oil instead of butter, pasta should be served in a single “bundle,” which is a handful of noodles. This is good to know, as I have a bad habit of pouring an entire box of dried pasta into my pan at home.
During our pasta-making class with the lovely ladies of Il Salotto Di Penelope, we prepared Tagliatelle, Tortelloni and Gnocci plus three sauces to go with each plate. I was blown away by how much effort goes into making each type of pasta but moreso, by the passion both women have for the art of pasta-making. You really do need to put your heart into it I guess and that effort pays off tenfold come serving time.
As much as I love pasta, I find bread just as irresistible. In fact, I really have no self control when it comes to Italian food, hence the stretchy pants mentioned above. Similar to how things are done in the United States, we ordered this plate of bread before our main dishes. Unlike the states, however, this bread isn’t intended to simply tide us over until our pizza arrives. Instead, the combination of olive oil, marinara sauce and sprinkled herbs on top of the toasted bread was flavorful and light. If you’re searching for this item on the menu, look for anything that says, bruschetta fatta con pane tostato, pomodoro fresco, olio e basilico.
I tried a lot of different types of breads throughout the week and this was definitely one of my favorites. Since we were touring through northern Italy, certain breads like Lombardia, Veneto and Piemonte, are more common. The same is true of central Italy and south Italy so if you want to try them all, you better plan a cross-country train trip.
Megan Eileen McDonough
Megan Eileen McDonough is a New York City-based freelance writer the founder of Bohemian Trails, a blog covering global lifestyle trends for the savvy and stylish traveler. Her cultural escapades have taken her to Europe, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and across the United States. Megan’s work has appeared on Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, US Airways and USA Today among others.