No day trips today. Just me and la grassa, la dotta, la rossa: Bologna. I just love this city in so many ways. And strangely it doesn’t get high priority in many travel guides. I don’t know why this is, but the benefit is that the crush of tourists is less. I met a couple from Montreal and they had the same impression that this is an underrated destination.
My hotel is in the university quarter, and I feel as though the university is more vibrant than it has ever been. Students are everywhere, and I think some of them graduated today (presuming that’s what the laurel wreaths mean).
My mission for the day focused on that university. I started at the original university, the Archiginnasio, which is in the center of town. While I conveniently got to see the old room where they taught law, I went here primarily to see the Anatomical Theater. They used to do public dissections here (only of men).
I doubled back toward the present-day university, where I visit the Poggi Palace for the obstetrical museum. The clay models made by Giovanni Antonio Galli to teach obstetrics are out of this world. And they are humbling, too, as many say things like “uterus of a woman who died in her eighth month of pregnancy.” I’ve been to this museum before but wanted better quality photos. The difficulty is the room is dimly lit, and I’m not using a flash, so I’m really pushing the limits of the camera on some of these. Still, they mostly are decent.
From here, lunch of roast pork and potatoes at Tamburini.
Followed by fried cream (thick custard, I think). These are downright dangerous. Perhaps I need to learn to make them.
The afternoon started at the world’s most misnamed museum at the Istituto di Anatomia Umana Normale.
OKOK there was some normal stuff, but there were lots of things like this:
They really spent a lot of time on congenital things, like TRAPs (acardiacs), conjoined twins, and hydrocephalus. The collection is just phenomenal and I stood there taking a gazillion pictures.
The rest of the afternoon was spent shopping. For dinner I went to Bertino, which is reported to be a traditional Bolognese restaurant.
I started with tagliatelle alla bolognese. I know I’ve had it once already but it isn’t readily available at home. Well, that is, unless you count mine. It was soo good. More tomatoey than two nights ago. While eating this I was to decide on the secondo.
In making this decision I was torn. While the restaurant supposedly offers a traditional Bolognese table, I didn’t know that I wanted the most traditional thing on the menu. That item is bollito misto, or mixed boiled meats. It’s just a lot to eat.
Alas when the time came my will shattered and I went with the bollito misto (there was also a roasted option). This is a mixture of boiled beef tongue, beef, zampone (a sausage stuffed in a pigs trotter), cottechino (another sausage), and veal cheek. They bring it to you in a big “carrello” (cart) and dish it out with the sides (mashed potatoes, beans, cippollino, and a salsa of onion and tomato). They also put a green sauce on the table.
While serving, the owner asked where I am from. I said “Detroit,” and he confirmed his understanding of this by saying “Texas.” BUT he does know of the Detroit Pistons and University of Michigan basketball. Conversely, he also said I speak Italian well, so I am convinced he’s at least one Brady short of a bunch.
As a whole, this was another guttural primal feast. Meat, meat, and more meat. There were some unusual things here, but this was a time to trust the locals. And boy was it worth it. I shouldn’t do this, because this was a single plate and should be judged as a whole, but here are the individual meats, listed in clockwise manner starting at 9 o’clock.
Tongue. This tastes like tongue, but it pairs nicely with the green sauce, which is quite acidic. The sauce is primarily olive oil, but contains something that is clearly pickled. Cuts through the gaminess of the tongue
Zampone is extremely tender. Melts in your mouth. It is also rather fatty. The flavor reminds me of corned beef. Really great corned beef.
Cottechino. Similar but different. Almost sweet. Like salami.
Veal cheek. Tender. Mild. Fatty
Beef is beef but raised to another level by the onion and tomato salsa, which is slightly hot and slightly sweet.
I had lambrusco with this. Dry, light, and fizzy, this was the perfect wine to balance so much fatty food. But the lambrusco saddened me as well, because it is just not available in this style at home, where it is mostly sweet. *sigh* And because dad loved lambrusco.
I paid the bill and headed back to the hotel. It was a long walk, but I definitely needed it.
And now I will pack, for in the morning I am off to Rome (with a suitcase twice as heavy as intended)