The Only Places That Produce True Mortadella

If your bologna has a first name, chances are good that you're a child of the 1970s. But, think again if its second name is of American origins. Brought to America by Italian immigrants at the turn of the century, History Daily notes that what most Americans call bologna was actually made popular by a German immigrant — Oskar Ferdinand Mayer. But, to trace the roots of one of America's favorite cold cuts, there's only one spot on the map you'll need to go — Bologna, Italy, where mortadella was born.

Italian-American actor Stanley Tucci explores Bologna in his CNN docuseries "Searching For Italy," and samples mortadella at an Italian favorite dating back to 1960, Salumeria Simoni. "If one goes to heaven, this is probably it," Tucci declares, "Mortadella is what gave birth to bologna. American bologna doesn't taste like this. It's so silky, garlicky, and sweet."

A mixture of ground pork and chunks of fat from the pig's jowls (via Meats and Sausages), it's easy to see why true Mortadella is treasured in Italy. It's so highly renowned, in fact, that it can only be made in certain places.

What's the big deal?

Italians take their food seriously with a slow meal approach highlighting the actual experience of communing with others over a good meal, and appreciation of its ingredients, according to Berkley Center. With such appreciation, authenticity matters.

A true Italian original, mortadella boasts the PGI (Protected Geographical Identification) distinction which recognizes its place of origin and process as unique with a mission of protection. It's among some 200 foods protected by law – 44 in Emilia Romagna region where Bologna is located. Also within Italy's food valley are delicacies such as balsamic vinegar, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and prosciutto di Parma that also have earned the PGI status. 

Just as Emilia Romagna's Lambrusco wine presents terroir, so does mortadella. Made from pigs raised in the Pianura Padana valley where the River Poe runs straight through, per Great Italian Chefs, it's this sense of place that's so important to the process of making mortadella. And, even though Emilia Romagna Tourismo notes that mortadella is made outside the region's borders, the real deal remains within Bologna. 

So, if you find the good fortune to travel to Bologna, celebrate the "Pink Queen" at the annual Mortadella, Please Festival in Zola Predosa — ground zero for its inception. There are also a myriad of butcher shops in Bologna touting the delicacy that will undoubtedly address you with a hearty "Buon appetito!"