La Piadina Romagnola
The Piadina is simply an unleavened flatbread typical of Romagna, the seaside area around Bologna. The rolled dough is traditionally cooked over a heated flat stone, although nowadays pans or griddles are the norm.
A staple of the local
cucina povera (literally “poor cuisine”), its recipe only calls for water, flour, and salt – and in prosperous times – pork fat. My grandparents still tell stories of the food shortages in Romagna when a single anchovy would serve as piadina flavoring for the whole family! So why does any Italian’s mouth water when you mention piadine today? (Piadinerie, the street kiosks that sell them, are ubiquitous in Romagna; you could have one every 50 feet if you wanted.) The reason is that here they will cut the piadina in half and stuff it to the gills with salame, prosciutto, or squacquerone (a local cheese) and arugula, and then heat it up so the ingredients all melt together. Or you can eat delicious crescione, a variation on the theme where the dough itself contains herbs and other ingredients, then folded and cooked, similar to a calzone.
As with many regional foods in Italy, it is very hard to find piadina, much less good
piadina, outside of Romagna. So, if you ever happen to be traveling through this history-filled land that tells its story through its foods, don’t pass on the chance to enjoy this delicious centuries-old treat with all its modern charm!