How to eat tagliatelle like a Bolognese

It's hard not to meet them in Bologna. They are around you in every corner, in every season.
Loved by kids, perfect with ragù, but also great for vegetarians.
It's time to learn everything about tagliatelle.

8mm of perfection

Like many Italian foods, a single detail could change everything.
Tagliatelle must be 8mm thick. Not one more. The exact proportion of 1/12270 of Asinelli's tower.
That's what the official recipe, lodged at the Chamber of Commerce in 1972, says.

Otherwise we call them tagliolini and serve with a fish sauce, or pappardelle, perfect with boar or porcini mushrooms.

​Here in Bologna, we take this pretty seriously.
There is even an association called the Apostle of Tagliatella that celebrates 'her countess, Tagliatella' and the pasta makers and restaurants that keep the tradition alive. But also blame on the ones who cross the line.

​So embrace a fork, a ruler but...

Put that knife away, killer

I tell you a secret.
I'm terrible with chopsticks. A real disaster.
But I put all my efforts to use them and never ask for a fork in an Asian restaurant.

In Italy we never use other tools but a fork to eat pasta. Spoons are for soups, knives for steaks.
For long format pasta like spaghetti or tagliatelle you only need 3 tools:
  • a fork
  • some practice
  • a lot of patience
None will look you weird if you take some time to eat your hot dish of tagliatelle. Neither if your precious nest collapses, just before you're about to devour it. It's fine.
If instead you start to cut tagliatelle into small pieces with a knife, well it's fine too, but it doesn't look very Italian.

​My suggestion?
Don't panic, take your time, try with a small amount of pasta and look around. There's always a master around you to copy.
Tagliatelle with ragù at Diana restaurant, one of the oldest of Bologna

'Come in, come in!' Go away

In Bologna you can find tagliatelle at every corner. But where to find the best?
A must suggestion, always valid in Italy, is that a waiter is waiting for you on the door and ask you to come in, you should run away.
Good restaurants don't need waiter pushing you in.
Read my list of restaurants to find the best tagliatelle in Bologna. You won't find waiters on the door, but smiles at the entrance.
Tagliatelle are also put on a typical cake of Bologna

Tagliatelle in rainbow

Yellow, green, pink or black.
No, I'm not talking about that horrible pack of coloured pasta you can find in some windows in Florence, or even in Mercato di Mezzo.

Tagliatelle are made of 1 egg for 100g of 00 flour, but sometimes we like to change.
Then we add spinach or nettle to make them lighter and perfect with mushrooms. Or brown with chestnut flour or cocoa for a sweeter taste. And even pink with beetroot, to serve with asparagus or just butter and Parmigiano.

Every colour a flavour. Every flavour a new pasta to discover.

Not only as a pasta

Surprise, surprise: tagliatelle in Bologna are not only a pasta.

​During our food tour in Bologna, between ragù and mortadella, we usually meet this unusual cake that makes people speechless.
Who would ever put pasta on a cake???
Here we are, Bolognesi. Caramelized tagliatelle, a little bit thinner than 8mm, with orange juice on a marzipan basis with almonds. And liquor of course.

If you're looking for a surprising food souvenir to take home from Bologna, this is the one.
[photos: Mike Knell, Markus Reinhardt]


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