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The Piadina Romagnola has a long connection with the history of the people of Romagna. This old traditional "bread" recipe has become, with the passing of time, a traditional dish can make a name for itself in modern cooking society - from bread of the poor to a mass produced snackfood loved by many.
Yesterday, it was the food of the poor. Today the most refined palates also appreciate it. The Italian dish called "Piadina Romagnola" has been a poetic inspiration for a series of famous writers, such as Aldo Zama, Aldo Spallicci, Sea Moretti and Giovanni Pascoli who, having been born in Romagna, don't hesitate to praise the Piadina Romagnola, a dish that is almost "as old as man".
In the Middle Ages, the populace only ate what they produced but the gentlemen landlords imposed the use of their mills to make a profit from wheat flour. That way, the Piadina once more - the humble flat unleavened type of bread made of flour, water, and salt in thin cooked slices - was the daily food staple of the region.
The first traces of Piadina take us back to 1371, when in the Descriptio Romandiolae, the Cardinal Anglico speaks of two "piade" that Modigliana had to give as payment. He also describes them with a recipe: "It is made with wheat flour soaked with water and seasoned with salt. It can also be mixed with milk and seasoned with some pork fat."
Moreover, it must be emphasized that as the pastures defines the generous cooked bread on the baking-pan called testi. The so-called "national bread of the Romagnolis" created an indissoluble bond between Piadina and Romagna; one cannot be identified without the other.
The Piadina was about to be forgotten in the 1960's, but instead it got more notoriety in recent years. It has undergone some changes in characteristics but has passed from alternative food and the bread of the ancient farmers to versatile food of the modern Romagnolis.
Today, the Piadina (or piada) is hardly listed in food catalogues: as any bread variant, as usual, it can be a similar snack. Stuffed full of vegetables, cheeses, meats or, in the last years it may be full of everything you can imagine. And it can even become a dessert, or be turned into a vegetarian dish by by replacing the traditional lard with olive oil or soymilk.
To testify the vitality and the uniqueness of piada, we can also quote the fact that there are numerous recipes and ways of preparing it, which vary from place to place.A slight mix of styles: departing from the Riminese coast, where Piadina is fine and usually called "piada", and proceeding toward the inside, the Cesenate and the Forlivese, and to north on the coast toward Ravenna and from here still toward the inside, up to climb on the hills and then on the mountains, Piadina becomes big, without losing its friability.
Traditional Recipe: Piadina Romagnola
A kilo of flour, not too sieved (otherwise it becomes extremely thin); 4 grams baking soda, 300 grams lard (but some people assure that one hundred is also enough) and salt. If you don't want to use lard, try using half glass of extra virgin olive oil.
Mix all the ingredients. Add some water to form a rather hard mix. Or, instead of water, you can add milk or just dry white wine. Stretch the mix with the rolling pin on the board forming a beautiful circle of dough, according to your taste. Sprinkle the rolling pin with flour every now and then, otherwise this dough may stick at the wooden tool and the thin leave may get punctured.
Start cooking the dough on a hot flat skillet or a traditional testo. A piadina must be cooked in a hurry. As soon as the piadina is cooked on its surface, it forms some light bubbles that must be crushed with the tips of a fork, whose imprints remain after the cooking to remember the job of the women in front of the heat of the hot container. Also use a long-bladed knife that will be useful to turn the piadina disk clockwise.