|Dessert lasagna with dark chocolate pasta, mascarpone cream, espresso spongecake, white chocoalte|
|my favorite: yellow lasagna with roasted chicken, peppers, corn, ricotta, mozzarella|
A few weeks ago Bologna hosted its annual festival of Bolognese specialties, a celebration that focuses on a single, traditional dish from the region and invites the best local chefs to showcase their individual take on the plate. This year the city paid homage to lasagna: La Festivale di Lasagna Bolonga 2013. A friend of mine found the advertisement pasted onto the wall of a portico—thank you thank you thank you Stephanie—and when the day came we suited up in our stretchy pants and walked a mile from the walls of the main city to find our lasagna goldmine.
As a dish that originated in Bologna, Italy, the Bolognese locals take their lasagna seriously. The pasta is handmade (as it is everywhere in Bologna, and I’m fully aware of how spoiled I am) and kept warm over low flame, served beside tables stacked with bottles of Pignoletto prosecco and deep red Sangiovesse (two wines typical of the region). Each hungry taste-tester gets a token worth six plates of lasagna. Consider, however, the phrases a friend relayed to me a few weeks after my arrival in the city: in Emilia-Romagna, “si mangia bene” e “se si vuole un bicchiere, si riceve un bicchiere di vino.” In other words, in Bologna’s region of Italy—the “breadbasket” Emilia-Romagna—one not only “eats well,” but “when one asks for a glass of water they receive a glass of wine instead.” It is a region bursting with as much hospitality as it is food and wine. So, as my friend and I walked with our tokens into the blooming courtyard that hosted the event, we were prepared to eat six pieces of lasagna. Yes, that is a lot of lasagna. But in a region as traditionally hospitable as Emilia-Romagna, everyone would like to feed you, to have you try a particular sauce, to let you eat a heaping portion of lasagna to share. Eleven pieces of lasagna later, we staggered back into the main walls of Bologna to heal our lasagna and wine-stuffed bodies and fall asleep by 6 pm.