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La Piadina Romagnola
Piadine: Ready to Serve. Enjoy!
© Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com
Italy is blessed with an astonishing variety of breads: In Tuscany the bread is unsalted, around Torino they make bread sticks a yard long, and in Romagna, along the Adriatic Coast, they make the piadina. It's a flat bread cooked on a testo, or griddle, and unleavened, and considering that this sort of bread dates back to the Neolithic, you might expect it to be quite old.
Instead, it dates to the introduction of corn in the late 1700s: Further north, in the Veneto, Lombardia, and Piemonte, especially, the poor used their cornmeal to make polenta, cornmeal mush. However, Romagnoli preferred bread, and since cornmeal dough doesn't rise well, especially when cut with other secondary seed crops (or even chestnuts), they made flatbreads called piade and cooked them on testi.
This was the tenant farmer's food, and many families survived on little else.
However, they did keep wheat flour handy for when the landowner or other notables came calling, and then made flatbreads using wheat flour, and adding lard for added richness: Piadine, and as the lot of the general population improved during the 20th century, to the point that people could afford the ingredients, the piadina stopped being a treat for the wealthy, and became everybody's every-day bread.
Little wonder; it's tasty to bite into, wonderful when spread with cheese, an excellent foil for cold cuts, and (when folded) perfect for containing all sorts of things, for example grilled sausages and onions.
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