Piè, piada, piadina: these are some of the names how it is called the “national bread of Romagnoli”, as defined by Giovanni Pascoli, one of the most important poets from Romagna.
Piadina is at the same time an example of fast food, street food, family and traditional food of Romagna giving it a strong identification.
You realize you crossed the invisible border of Emilia and you are in Romagna when you see a kiosk painted in red and white or green and white stripes. While driving throughout Romagna, in the middle of nowhere, you will certainly bump into one of these kiosks and you might wonder what is standing there for. Selling piadina for the benefit of locals, workers and travelers, of course.
Just by parking your car – kiosks often have on their side a parking lot and plain furniture with simple tables and benches – you can enjoy a flat bread filled with thin slices of prosciutto, salame or squacquerone (soft fresh cheese spreadable) and arugula, mortadella, salsiccia or other typical Italian delicacies, for a quick snack or a pleasant lunch.
Piadina might recall you the appearance of Mexican tortillas. However, just a simple bite will tell you that its flavor is totally different: flour, water, yeast or baking soda, pork fat or olive oil, a pinch of sea salt. The dough, once flattened by a rolling pin and cooked over metal griddles or terracotta, will spread all around his peculiar flavor.
We heard about many many different family recipes to prepare piadina, differing for slight details but still reflecting its original soul. The blend of flour, different rising agents, vegetarian when mixed with extra virgin olive oil from Brisighella or with pork fat to make it more crispy.
Story of piadina is the story of many other Italian traditional specialties: started as a surrogate of bread, nowadays it is a tasty substitute of a meal. Recently, piadina was granted the European certification “IGP”, and turned into a more industrial product. You can buy it at the supermarket wrapped up in a plastic pack but not comparable with ones freshly made. To be granted IGP certification, piadina recipe has to follow certain specific regulation: tradition lives in the kiosks and you will develop your taste and like more some better than others.
Forlì, Cesena and Rimini were the areas of Romagna where piadina was born, “Ravenna discovery it later” as the regulation states. You will be able to taste a thinner piadina heading towards the sea, in Rimini. In Cesena and Forlì, closer to the Appennini, piadina is thicker, less flexible but perfect to be folded and to be eaten “on the street”.
Piadina can be folded on itself and filled with wild greens whipped with pecorino, garlic or tomatoes and mozzarella and it is known as “cassone” or “crescione”. So thin and flexible that it can be wrapped up for a “piadina roll”.
Piadina is the symbol of how fast food can be a meal full of tradition and quality.
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