Bologna is one of my favourite places in Italy, not only is it a hub for all culinary amazingness, but it also is home to one of my favourite Italians – Andrea from Taste Bologna.
Andrea and I met a few years back and he offered to take me on a walking food tour of Bologna, I had no idea I was actually his very first tour but was so impressed at his ability to share the culture and history of Bologna through food without making it feel like a heavy lesson.
It wasn’t long before he was more popular than he imagined and has expanded into awesome pasta classes and pizza and gelato. It’s great because I felt like I was taking a tour with a friend and now we’re actually friends.
This is why it was even more special to introduce him to Dave. Being the gracious Italian he is, Andrea asked if we would like to come to his parents home for lunch with his friends.
Now this may seem like a simple request for North Americans but on weekends the Italian lunch is an event. It’s something that tourists rarely get to appreciate because we’re on our own and often it happens at home.
It turns out his family is just as charming as he is, and it was such an incredible afternoon talking about life, food and Italy over amazing food. Not everyone spoke the same language and to be honest I don’t think they understood our joke about the all male kitchen being an Italian sausage party but there was lots of wine and laughs.
It was also a great opportunity for Andrea to share nuances and the art of the Italian lunch.
Of course this wine was homemade – because that’s how things are done around here. With a meat-centric lunch this is the wine to drink as it pairs well with meat. It’s best described as a light sparkling red, that is double fermented first for alcohol and then for bubbles.
Thin Italian flatbreads found throughout the region of Emilia Romagna, but in places like Rimini they are very thin like tortillas whereas in Bologna they are much thicker. It’s a simple bread made with flour, lard or olive oil, salt and pepper. While piadinas were historically cooked in terracotta dishes, it’s more common to see them now on a griddle.
A fresh cheese from Emilia Romagna, “aqua” is in the name to reflect that it’s rather runny. It has a sweet but sour cow milk taste and is meant to be spread on piadinas.
Coppa di testa
We knew this one! It’s head cheese, which is a misleading name as it’s not cheese at all, coppa di testa is a terrine made from a pig head. We make it at Loka but then bread it, deep fry it and actually call it crispy pig head.
Maybe best described as pork cakes? Ciccioli are very common in Emilia Romagna, and in Lazio and Umbria they are called sfrizzoli.
Like with many traditional Italian foods nothing goes to waste to ciccioli is all the fatty scraps of pork that are dried and then put into a special press to remove even more liquid. You end up with crunchy fat chips. It’s almost like cracklin’ mixed with rendered pork and fat.
Trust us, ciccioli is delicious.
And what would dessert be without more pork? Sfrappole is a cookie fried in pork fat; it is also known as chiacchiere and is often eaten during carnival.
After lunch we continued the Italian tradition and went to a bar for some espresso. Fortunately the bar was a nice long walk away, perfect for eating off this perfect Italian lunch.
Want to know more about what food to eat? Check out our post on what to eat in Modena, a small town just outside Bologna that is home to some of the world’s greatest culinary treasures.