Back to School - where the taste of culture meets the culture of taste
In the small town of Forlimpopli you will find Fondazione Casa Artusi an establishment of cooking school, library, church and restaurant in honor of the highly cultured gastronomist, Pelligrino Artusi who published a cookbook back in 1891 – interestingly he couldn’t cook. For many years he collected over 790 recipes to fill the pages of the book, which he self- published to become one of Italy’s best sellers. La Scienza in Cucina e L’Arte di Mangiar Bene (Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well) has been translated and sold worldwide.
All of this is thanks to Marietta Sabatini, his housekeeper and irreplaceable cook when he lived in Tuscany. She was obviously very talented in the kitchen, because it was well known that if you went to the Artusi house at meal time, it was wise to stay if invited. She was the real inspiration for the recipes published.
So at the cooking school at Casa Artusi all of the cooking instructors are called Marietta as a kind special nod to the original lady. On my day there we were learning traditional homemade pasta and piadina. Chef Carla led us through pasta with her hands nimbly mixing, kneading and resting the egg dough. We used Raviggiolo a sweet fresh cows’ cheese to fill our cappelletti. The area of Romagna love their filled pasta.
Then we moved on to making our piadina on its terracotta dish. Using the traditional extra-long 40 inch wooden mattarello so that cooks could roll out large pasta sheets we rolled out our small rounds of flat dough and popped them on the hot teggia. In seconds we flipped, and then another and another, cleaning the stone as needed with a rice straw whisk, filling the awaiting basket to keep them warm until we sat down at the table. Thank you Marietta for sharing your knowledge with both Pelligrino and us!
I fell in love with the beautiful traditional Italian Mattarello (rolling pins) thinking they’d make a statement in anyone’s kitchen, one just happened to fit in my suitcase to come home.
The original and traditional recipe of Piadina
4 cups of all-purpose flour 3 oz of lard 2 pinches of baking powder or 2 teaspoons of dried yeast 1½ teaspoons of sea salt
It’s time to learn the secrets of how to make it. With the flour, make a small well in which you put the lard. Piadina dough is kneaded from the inside, bringing the flour onto the lard and adding the other ingredients, helping it along with a little warm water. According to the advice from the cooks, it is kneaded with the hands, obviously, the movement comes from the shoulders and it’s better if the legs are slightly flexed. The dough should be worked for around ten minutes and divided into the number of piadinas you want to make. Each one is rolled out with a rolling pin until you have a diameter between 6 and 12 inches. A round terracotta tray is recommended for cooking it. Lay it down from top to bottom. Prick it with a fork. Turn it over and prick it again. Three times. And all in 5 minutes.