Borlengo is a very thin bread, almost with the consistency of a crêpe. The dough is extremely simple, made of water , flour, eggs and salt. Served hot , folded in four , and filled with the "cunza" , a pesto made with chopped lard, garlic and rosemary, which contains all the strong flavors of Modena earth.
Borlengo is a very typical dish because you can only eat in a very narrow area of the Apennines, precisely between the valleys over Modena, from Vignola to Zocca, where it was born (some says in the Neolithic era).
Borlengo is also a "social" food in all aspects . It's difficult to eat and it almost forces you to stay longer at the table, with a friendly chat and a good glass of red . Also you have to cook borlengo in company: for the considerable dimensions requires a demanding processing , for which is always better to have at least two in the kitchen. Of course there is no party in the region without borlengo: in Guiglia every May, it takes place “La Sagra del Borlengo”.
Borlengo by La Campagnola Restaurant in Vignola (MO)
Every small town in the region claims the authentic authorship of borlengo . And so many legends were born around the birth of this very original food.
It’s not clear where the name Borlengo comes from. The legend says that it would be the result of a joke to a housewife who, with flour and water, was preparing the dough for traditional tigelle. The woman, finding the dough for the daily food string out with water, didn’t think of throwing it away, but tried to obtain something edible - and she succeeded.
Pesto modenese and parmiggiano reggiano, the ingredients of "cunza"
The base of the borlengo is the “colla” (the glue). It’s a liquid dough that is baked in the “rola” and then seasoned with cunza, before being served.
Preparation of the Colla (for about 40 borlenghi)
1 kg of flour
4/5 liters of water
1 tablespoon salt
Put flour, eggs and salt in a bowl and there mix with a whisk or an electric mixer . As you proceed with the dough, add water until you get the mixture very smooth . Allow the glue to rest a few hours in the refrigerator.
Preparation of the Cunza
150 gr of bacon or lard
2 cloves of garlic
1 sprig of rosemary
Place bacon in a container and add crushed garlic and chopped rosemary in a generous dose . Slightly heat the mixture to melt the bacon which will be flavored with garlic and rosemary.
Cooking the borlengo
Take about a spoonful of colla and pour it on the rola (a special tinned copper pan about 45cm in diameter). The cooking takes a few minutes. Once you have the desired consistency (better if the borlengo remains soft in the center), sprinkle the borlengo of cunza and grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Fold into quarters and serve.
Old man at a Sagra holding a tool to prepare the borlengo
Where to eat them
As we said Borlenghi can be found in a very narrow area around Modena. I’d like to suggest a few restaurant that I tested:
Via Cà de Barozzi, 41058 Vignola
Tel. 059 771032
Via Montalbano, 5500/B, 41059 Zocca Modena
Tel. 059 985067
At the end I found a local doggerel about Borlenghi in modenese dialet that I'd like to share (English translation on the right) because shows a lot of the aspects of this traditional and social food:
And a video showing you the cooking process:
[Photos courtesy of Città di Modena; Roberto Ferrari; Info by www.turismo.montana-est.mo.it]