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National Tortellini Day

Tortellini, a stuffed pasta, is celebrated on National Tortellini Day. It has a ring or navel shape; fittingly, it has the alternative name of "ombelico," which means belly button in Italian. Tortellini is usually stuffed with meats—such as pork loin and prosciutto—or with cheese, and it is usually served with beef or chicken broth, or both, or with a sauce. It can be frozen, refrigerated, or freshly packed, and is found around the world, especially in areas where there are large Italian communities. A similar pasta is tortelloni, which is larger in size.

Tortellini is originally from Emilia, a region in northern Italy, where the cities of Bologna and Modena are located. It is not known how tortellini came about, but three different legends have filled the void of this mystery, and made the truth even cloudier. One legend says that Lucrezia Borgia stayed at an inn in Castelfranco Emilia, a town on the road between Bologna and Modena. The host was infatuated with her and looked at her through the keyhole of her door. Only a few candles were lit in her room, and he could only see her navel, which inspired him to make a navel shaped pasta that night.

A similar legend says that Venus and Jupiter stopped at a tavern in the outskirts of Bologna, after tiring from taking part in a battle between Modena and Bologna. After eating and drinking, they took a room in an inn. The innkeeper watched them through a keyhole, but all he could see was Venus's navel. He went to the kitchen and made tortellini in its image. A third legend claims that tortellini was made to look like a turtle, since many seventeenth century buildings in Modena had a turtle motif. No matter how it came to be, it is now widely popular, making it fitting that it has its own day.

How to Observe National Tortellini Day

Try your hand at making a recipe with tortellini!

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