In the last recipe I helped Violetta prepare the piadine and I must admit that it was fun because it was my first time. In fact, in Italy Violetta was used to eat piadine as street food, or to buy them ready, just to be filled, for a quick homemade snack.
The act of putting our “hands in the dough” allowed us to discover something more about this delicious food that in Italy we almost took for granted.
A bit of history
Like all breads, the origin of the piadina is lost in the mists of time. We can certainly say that it originates from Romagna (a specific area of the Emilia Romagna region) and that already in 1371, the cardinal legate Angel de Grimoard, spoke of it in his Descriptio Romandiole indicating the recipe:
“It is made with wheat flour moistened with water and flavoured with salt. It is then kneaded with milk as well, and also a little lard “.Angel de Grimoard – Descriptio Romandiole
The codified recipe therefore involves the use of wheat flour, a fat (lard or olive oil), a liquid (water or milk, or also a mix between the two), salt and a pinch of leavening agent such as bicarbonate of soda (the latter seems to be a recent addition, dated to the early 20th century). Spread out in thin circles, it is then cooked on a hot pan, traditionally using clay dishes still made today in the town of Monteliffi (Forlí).
In regards to the dimensions, there are two approved versions:
- Piadina di Romagna, with a diameter between 15 and 25 cm and a thickness of about 8 mm
- Piadina di Rimini, with a diameter between 25 and 30 cm and a maximum thickness of 3 mm. The Rimini piadina is also characterized by the greater presence of “dark spots” (the most cooked areas on the surface) that in the Piadina di Romagna are instead avoided by piercing the dough with a fork before cooking.
Therefore born as a poor recipe, an enriched bread to accompany cheeses or cured meats that were made at home, starting from the 60s the piadina became popular as a street food until it became a symbol of Romagna, today protected by the IGP brand .
Back to our stories, as I said before, I have no previous memories of the piadina, except for the fact that when the family ate it I basically rested. I therefore asked Violetta to tell me something and her reaction shocked me: she was moved! In fact, she told me that the last time she ate a real piadina was two years ago in Rimini. This is what she told me:
At the time the idea of a pandemic was just a subject for disaster movies, only doctors and Japanese were wearing masks, we were taking last-minute planes and we were hugging each other. And above all we used to go to concerts.
Francesca and I had therefore organised one of our mini-escapes: two days in Rimini and Bologna, a visit to the cities and most of all the two final evenings of Marco Mengoni’s tour.
We spent the first day in Rimini, there was just enough time to settle down in the hotel and make a quick tour of the city with a stop for a quick coffee. In the evening we arrived at the venue where the concert was held, we went in with the typical excitement of a concert night, and… we realised we were hungry. Right at the entrance we found ourselves in front of a small stall that made piadine, and we immediately thought we had seen paradise. So we entered the room, like almost all the other spectators, with our hot “piada” in hand, stuffed simply with squaquerone (a typical fresh spreadable cheese) and rocket, and we gained our space near the stage. The concert was magnificent.
Now I think about everything that happened after, about the fact that I had to cancel my holidays in Italy in 2020, about the lockdowns, about the fact that we still have heavy travel restrictions and that the concert in Rimini was one of the last I was able to attend, and I think I can compare the taste of that piadina to the nectar of the gods.
What can I add to all this? I can only wish Violetta, who has just received the second dose of the anti-covid vaccine, to return soon to that life and to enjoy those emotions again.