Ciao! Benvenuto to the loveliest city of foodie fixtures in all of Italy. Bologna, I have the pleasure of coming inside your borders and enjoying your tasty treasures. Be warned, my gentle readers, thais day of pasta indulgence is about to get sensual.
Foreplay starts with the unassuming Girl Next Door with surprising sex appeal, Spaghetti Bolognese. If you must try anything in the land it originated from, it’s the spaghetti Bolognese in Bologna.
Oh my Pasta, what a shameless flirt! With your thick long noodles and your meaty, plump, sumptuous sauce, I know I’ve made the right choice to date you. I can’t in all my years remember spaghetti this tantalizing without being flashy like tagliatele or decadent like lasagna. Lasagna just tries way too hard to be noticed. The noodles are just ridiculously wide and does it really think it’s going to impress me with all that unnecessary cheese? Like all women I know who travel to the beautiful country of pasta and wine, I need to taste my meat. Italia seduces the eyes and the loins and the confidence radiating from its food is undeniable as well as subtle. It’s comfort and seduction on every red and white checkered tablecloth, accompanying cobblestone streets reminding you that you’re not in the suburbs anymore and should act accordingly.
Hunty, you’d better eat like you know you’re not getting a meal like this in the States because you know after having this dish any Italian restaurant in America will taste like mushy peasant garbage.
Spaghetti Bolognese, oooooh you are a naughty, naughty pasta! Curling around my fork as though you don’t know how it affects me. How dare you manipulate my emotions this way, teasing me with your perfect physique, al dente— you get just hard enough to whet my appetite for more. How can I resist? I must stop flirting with you and devour you as the passion cries through my blood to finish the entire plate!
Closing up to the naughty bits, it’s even more tantalizing. But unfortunately I must muster up the courage to move on after it’s clear that the spaghetti Bolognese refuses to return my texts. I accept the fact that it was just a casual fling. I swallow my emotions and wander the streets to find something else to occupy my libido.
Whoa. Hold the espresso and cancel my evening plans.
From the corner of my eye I see it – a gorgeously displayed gelateria on the corner of some piazza, so shiny and pretty and— did I imagine that or did it… did it just wink at me?
Turning around and seeing nobody else behind me, I am convinced that the gelateria is interested in this spunky authoress. I flip my hair back before sauntering inside to sample every single flavor. I am helplessly turned on by all of them, overwhelmed by choices. Torturous deliberations continue and I eventually select a combination of pistachio layered with spicy chocolate. Hubba hubba.
Lizzie and I stood in silence outside the gelateria and enjoyed our tasty treats. If you’re in town, try Venchi Gelateria and you won’t be disappointed.
Mamma Mia! Gelato, what kind of sorcery love spells are you capable of? After we say our goodbyes, I immediately begin planning the next meal, because we are in Bologna only 1.5 days and are insatiable.
As we continue our journey through the Italian foodscape, we realize that we can’t move. Wait, let me try… oh no, no. That’s not going to work. We are broken humans stuffed with the corpses of carbs. Hmm. Maybe we should wait a few hours before consuming anything else? A four hour walk and 20,000 steps prove to be substantially sufficient to get us ready for more. An accidental nap on a bench might have been included in the walk.
“What’s next?” asks Lizzie, and I look around, seeing a welcoming restaurant that may or may not have what Yelp declares is one of the best panna cottas in the world. A very dubious claim, considering I’ve HAD the best panna cotta in the world and it was in Sardinia. But that’s typical of Italians, always telling you romantic things because that’s what you want to hear, and then minutes later inevitably you realize that’s what they say to all the girls.
Salumi, mortadella, crescentine fritte, formaggio and vino rosso. What better way to wine and dine than this delicate yet extremely filling spread? At this point I try and fail at understanding how Italians stay so slim; I’m full already and we haven’t even ordered pasta.
Happiest of taste buds, we eagerly await for our next dish, the diva of the hour, highly acclaimed with a very anticipated debut of our tortelloni, stuffed with ricotta and spinach, which apparently is different from tortellini, the tinier version only stuffed with meat rather than cheese and veggies. So think about that, peasants, next time you order from an American Italian restaurant and want to feel sophisticated.
The pasta? Downright pillowy. Just the kind of lover who in human form would have a “Dad bod.” It fits a specific demographic.
What is it about Italian food? It’s so simple and yet so refined and sophisticated, but the kind of food you crave, cheesy and with the freshest ingredients can be a tear-inducing experience. I remember once in Sardinia or Lake Como when this was my exact reaction to a piece of heart-shaped pizza that we had to return to the next night. The lovers I’ve had in Italy could fill an entire novella.
Tortelloni with truffle oil sauce turns out to be an almost illegal encounter, and I can’t wait to break the law again. But I am tempted to do some very illegal things to the panna cotta that is set before me to finish our meal in an appropriate, distinguished way. I still uphold the belief that the panna cotta in Sardinia is of a higher standard, but damn, what you do to me panna cotta… this one got me feeling a certain type of way.
It’s created with an old-fashioned recipe, using a nonna’s tender love and care, adding the simplest and freshest of ingredients that linger on the tongue hours after it’s gone. We leave the restaurant, walk around five hours, and our next meal will be waiting for us for dinner – it is a tortellini in brodo.
Bologna is known for this dish, a Northern Italian tradition of tiny tortellini dumplings stuffed with meat, floating lethargically in a broth of hot soup. It’s enough to get me wanting winter and a fireplace to get me in the romantic mood for this dish. Tortellini in brodo is the kind of date that will provide everlasting deep conversation, emotional reassurance, and cuddles for the rest of your life. It might, however, have the tendency towards possessive behavior. Why, for example, are you eyeing that other restaurant across the street? Oh, I see how it is. Well, slut, if you’re so interested in what it has to offer, why not just go there and get on with your life, hmm? I’m sure that other restaurant can make tortellini in brodo too, just not as good as me. Nothing will ever be as good as me. Wait, where are you going?! I was just trying to make you jealous. Stay here and love me forever!
After realizing the mistake in loving something with these dangerous insecurities and we file a restraining order, I decide to leave the restaurant before things get too weird. Lizzie and I know that in order to find true love, you can’t force anything. We’ve been dating these dishes for far too long to let ourselves get caught up too much in the romance and thrill of falling for someone too soon. We take a cautious step back and have a drink. Italians seem to constantly be either drinking an aperitivo or eating a luxurious meal. I can’t wait to live here one day and have this attitude towards life become my new normal.
Wine is, let’s be honest, good at any time of the day. After visiting Italy I will come home and think nothing of pouring a glass at 11 a.m. It’s wine, it’s nothing, I’ll think as I sip the Bologna classic, Lambrusco, a sparkling red that until today I never had the pleasure of tasting. It’s summer in a glass, it’s festive enough for the holidays, it’s flavorful and sweet. I drink my entire glass, something that if you personally knew me would be extremely impressive. We finish the tour with a satisfaction you can only get from nearly two full days of dating the hottest city in Italy for foodies and indulgent tourists.
Ending our stay in Bologna, I am still technically single but have more experience than I did before. I learned, I loved, I made memories to try conjuring up when I’m trying to correct my friends who try to drink a cappuccino at 3 p.m., or if they dare to dip their Italian bread in olive oil!
Bologna, you were a very good companion, and ranged from hot and sexy to warm and cuddly. I’d date you again, hell, I’d probably propose if you played your cards right. Call me maybe?