Imaginary Culinary Journey through Romagna - Part One

Guest Blogspot by Patricia Poggi - Zuppa Inglese - English Trifle

Introduction This Guest Blogspot unfolds from when Patrizia Poggi and I first ‘met’ each other in 2018 via social media and discovered our mutual passions for art, culture and tourism intertwining with our love of history, literature, music, food and drink. Patrizia currently manages a historical residence immersed in the Romagna countryside, the Relais Villa Roncuzzi, once owned by the Poor Clares of Ravenna. A welcoming environment, an intimate atmosphere, rich in art and culture for a pleasant stay in the cradle of Byzantine Art of Ravenna, UNESCO heritage and from the Po Delta Park.

Susanna and Patrizia welcome you to Villa Roncuzzi and to experience the story of Zuppa Ingese. Part One of "Imaginary Culinary Journey through Romagna".

In Ravenna rest the mortal remains of Dante Alighieri, the universal poet of the Divine Comedy, whose 700 years of his death will be celebrated throughout Italy in 2021. ​ ​Dante Alighieri & Ghino di Tacco (from the Divine Comedy), by Joe Ganech. Commissioned by Marysia Zipser for ACT ‘Italy Art and Photography’ Exhibition, ​9-31 March, 2018, at Beeston, Nottingham.

Villa Roncuzzi is a small charming hotel in the heart of Romagna, halfway between Bologna, Florence and Venice. But also a perfect place for those who want to discover Emilia-Romagna. Her tourism project is to get familiar with the nature, traditions and culture of Romagna. There have been many cultural events at the Relais Villa Roncuzzi, including the launch of the book "Dining with Pope Francis | Food in the life of Jorge Mario Bergoglio” by Roberto Alborghetti. Patrizia reveals her journey in a personal way to share her experience with us. The backdrop of photographs taken during one May day is dedicated with her family to making English soup. She says about the day, “It was a creative moment full of family and sweet affections.” These photos were taken by her 17 year-old art student granddaughter Carlotta Armiento. So our own friendship has blossomed, just like her villa garden roses, exploring together her stories about this region of Italy. I am sure you will savour her first part of Imaginary Culinary Journey through Romagna.

Patrizia relates her story here...

I would like to begin our imaginary journey through Romagna food. I thought about the bond with your Land and today I propose the legendary Zuppa Inglese (English soup). A typical Romagna dessert, which you can enjoy with your family or at the restaurant. It is a combination of layers of donut soaked in Alchermes that alternate with two types of custard, one classic yellow and one with cocoa. ​ The recipe codified by Pellegrino Artusi is the first written recipe of the Zuppa Inglese, but its origin is still shrouded in mystery. If you ask some Romagnolo he will tell you that it has been made in Romagna for centuries, the party dessert that all grandmothers prepare for their grandchildren. Its origins are mysterious. But why is it called Zuppa Inglese (English soup)? Does England have anything to do with this? But is this the case? Marysia asks, “Maybe someone out there can answer Patrizia’s questions…? The first written recipe can be found in "The science of cooking and the art of eating well" by Pellegrino Artusi, published in 1891. By the way, this year is the bicentenary of the birth of Pellegrino Artusi!

The photo is taken by Casa Artusi of Forlimpopoli (Forlì) . Casa Artusi was founded in the name of cultured gastronomist from Forlimpopoli Pellegrino Artusi, who can be found in many homes, both in Italy and abroad, through his manual (Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well). Casa Artusi is at the same time Library, Museum, cookery school, restaurant, wine cellar and location for events. Casa Artusi is the first living Museum of domestic cuisine!

At the end of the 19th century, English soup was widespread in at least three Italian regions: Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany and Marche and each of them declared their authorship, but only in Emilia and Romagna was Zuppa Inglese (English soup) already known in the eighteenth century. In the seventeenth century, in England, trifle was widespread, which seems to be the forerunner, a dessert with a base of cake (or biscuits), soaked in sweet wine with pieces of fruit and covered with cream. Trifle in English has meant trifle and in French with deception while in Italian soup, figuratively, it is said to be a ‘hodgepodge’. The trifle was widespread in England in the 1700s. Can someone explain how and why it arrived in Romagna in the 1700s?