My wife’s cousin sat a few chairs down from me. It was Christmas 1984. We were having cappelletti in broth, a typical–and beloved–dish we look forward to at holiday time. After spooning (scarfing) for a few minutes, the cousin looked up, turned to me, and said, “I could kill myself eating these things.”
They’re that good.
Cappelletti are in the tortellini/ravioli family of pasta—squares of dough with a filling of meat, cheese, and, in the kitchen of Romagna, a hint, and I mean barely an intimation, of nutmeg. The pasta is folded over the filling. The long and short of it is: morsels of insanely delicious little pillows of goodness, served in broth or with sauce.
For a long time I practiced monotheism. I had one god and its name was tagliatelle. This was not a foolish devotion. Shown below, the tagliatelle from Nud e Crud in Rimini, served with a subtle virtually tomato-free meat sauce.
Recently I’ve developed more spacious tastes and gone polytheistic. Cappelletti, of course, in the interest of homeostasis, served in broth after the long hours of travel between the US and Italy. But also, seen below, cappelletti served with ragu:
While across the table from me, my wife enjoys ravioli with butter and sage. I can’t help pilfering just a few from her dish. No one makes ravioli quite like Ro e Buni in Villa Verucchio.
Close by, at Trattoria del Passatore in Santarcangelo di Romagna, we have ravioli con le rosole, rosole being a very young sprouting of the poppy plant. These ravioli, as you can see, are tender, soft, irresistible cushions. Grated formaggio di fossa, yes.
And then just up the road, at Malardot in Torriana, these ravioli with an artichoke filling and a flurry of formaggio di fossa (an aged sheep’s milk cheese) grated over the top.
What a long and glorious history this food has. Ravioli (from the Italian riavolgere, meaning to wrap), mentioned in Boccaccio’s Decameron (1353), cited also around that time by Francesco di Marco Datini, a Tuscan merchant, whose recipe calls for blanched greens, grated cheese and egg, served in broth, ravioli and their variations on a theme have survived, flourished, and nourished to this day.
And we, the happy inheritors, give thanks.