TORTELLI DI ZUCCA
One of the most typical dishes bound to the traditions of Mantua and one of the best known dishes in Italy, is the pumpkin tortelli. The pumpkin tortelli also represent a gastronomic specialty that has a particular place in the Christmas tradition, specifically in the Christmas Eve dinner.
The pumpkin tortelli represent, besides that, a quite characteristic food as for their savour and taste. In fact, inside them, the natural sweetness of pumpkin and the savour of the Mantua mustard, which is a bit spicy, perfectly combine.
Its origins come from the Renaissance, after the America discovery. Pellegrino Artusi, considered as the father of Italian cookery, as well as of many other recipes from those times, did not include the pumpkin tortelli in his famous book, since he believed pumpkin a not-worthy food to the rising middle class.
RISOTTO ALLA PILOTA
Main element of the local cookery of Mantua, the rice a la pilota is traditionally one of the most popular dishes. Its typical name comes from the piloti, as the rice-huskers were called, who were also tenacious consumers of it.
The peculiarity of this dish is in its cooking, a perfect balance between rice and water, management of the top and cooking times, and of a specific resting time off-fire. The result is a risotto that looks quite dried, and mostly shelled.
LUCCIO IN SALSA
An undoubtedly ancient recipe, the sauced pike is a traditional dish of people’s origins. Its preparation is based on some boiled pike, which is seasoned with some savoury sauce made from vegetables, wine, and capers, and it is usually combined with some traditional polenta.
One of the tastiest gastronomical traditions of the Mantua territory definitely is the famous Mantua mustard. Dated back to the 14th century, the famous Mantua mustard was born as a luxury specialty, and from some Gonzaga documents we know for sure that this food had been on lords of Mantua’s tables.
Thanks to higher and higher presence of mustard seeds and sugar, since the 7th century, Mantua mustard has spread to the farmer families in the Northern Italy, becoming a food easy to find on their tables, as it still is today, especially in Christmas time.
The three-cup cake is called in this way within the Lombard tradition because a cup was used to measure its three ancient ingredients, which are sugar, white flour, and yellow flour. However, it is also called sbrisulada or sbrisolina, but regardless to the name we want to use, the sbrisolona cake is definitely one of the symbols of Mantua pastry-making.
Called in this way due to it crumbliness, its origins should be agricultural, while it had been ennobled after the Gonzagas’ arrival, being enhanced with more precious ingredients, like almonds, spices, and sugar.
Mantua, since 1789, hosted many coffeemakers and pastry chefs, immigrated mainly from the Grigioni Canton, in Switzerland. Samson Putscher, along with his family owner of a pastry shop, invented the Helvezia cake, clearly dedicated to his homeland. Soon enough, the typical products of Mantua pastry-making were included, like the almond dough and the zabaglione.
This cake is made from three circular disks of almond and sugar dough, and egg whites, plus twochocolate and zabaglione layers. Some variants include dark chocolate drops or whipped cream.
TORTA DI TAGLIATELLE
A sojourn at the wonderful Agritourism Corte Rocca, located in San Giorgio di Mantova near Villanova de Bellis (District of Mantua) in Lombardy, will give you the opportunity to taste the tagliatelle pie, an ancient sweet, almost certainly of Renaissance origins.
The tradition tells that the ornaments made of thin tagliatelle were nothing else than a loving homage to Lucrezia Borgia’s blond mane, the lady of the Este Castle of Ferrara for almost twenty years. This typical sweet of the cookery tradition of Emilia and Romagna, in the area of Mantua it is prepared without the usage of the pastry shell.