The Cappelletti Mystery

Welcome to the year 2023, the same exact thing as 2022 but without the legendary Twosday and hopefully less FFP2 masks. 

Today I am here as a food blogger/investigator of Italian cuisine eager to give you some insight into the real Italian kitchen. Am I saying that the pasta and pizza stereotype is completely false and that it’s just a really clever marketing trick and they only tell you that when you move to Italy? Thankfully, no, but it’s also a bit more complicated than that. 

A bit of an insight: Italians love their food. It’s facts. They don’t mind taking time to make it, enjoy the meal with good company and generally just love discussing it. Several of our photography classes with Aula21 ended with the guys giving us unusual food suggestions (a dessert with blood, the wut?). And, I mean, there is a lot to discuss as there are so many different kinds even of the same dish – region-wise or just depending on the family. As for the cappelletti. But I will discuss it later. First, let me show you some cool collages I made.

1. Romagnolo Christmas table

Yes, it is Christmas again. As the true journalist that I am, I needed time to collect and analyze data. In short, I once again took advantage of the Linguistic Aperitivo and interviewed the people present (4 people from this region and my boss) about their Christmas dinner table traditions.

I asked them to name top 3 foods always on the table for their Christmas meal. The bigger the food, the more times it was named.

Here we can see a good balance between meat and vegetarian dishes, as well as some sweets. In this picture you can see zampone, lentils, pandoro and panettone cakes, cotechino, roasted lamb, pure, all dominated by cappelletti in brodo (unexpected omg).

2. Romagnolo Christmas table with extras

As I am always curious whether people actually enjoy the traditions or are they doing it just because their ancestors did it, I asked my dear respondents to name non-traditional things they would like to have on their Christmas table.

As you can see, some new things are added while still keeping the pasta and meat dishes. What is interesting is that some mentioned that they actually enjoy the traditional things and one (1) said they would not add anything else. (In this picture – turkey with mushroom sauce, cappelletti with ragù, roasted artichokes, cotechino, venison, anything with cachi so I just put the cachi).

Do those tables look a bit empty for you? Same. Let’s add some things.

3. Aperitivo Linguistico Christmas table

As I mentioned before, I interviewed the people from the aperitivo and it’s quite an international table (love that). So here I present a traditional Christmas dinner meal from Italy (Romagna and Sicily), Spain (Valencia), Greece, France and Latvia.

Honestly, kind of wishing we would have done a dinner instead of an aperitivo but it was nice, we watched football in Rione Verde (Morocco vs France). If you are from any of the above-mentioned countries, how many dishes can you spot? If not, DM me for any names if you are interested.

4. Aperitivo Linguistico Christmas table with extras

And of course, I had to ask the same question to everyone – what they would like to have on their Christmas table despite of the traditional things.

Let me say, love the colors. I might have figured out my favorite table, which is yours?

But what about the Cappelletti?

Ah yes, the mystery. So. Maybe you noticed that the cappelletti in broth was on each Christmas table. They were there for a reason (did not see that coming). Inspired by our wonderful mentor:

1) I started to research Cappelletti online and then

2) we actually did a cappelletti workshop at her house and finally

3) I asked the inhabitants of Faenza for their cappelletti recipes.

What I found out:

  1. ‘The Cappelletti (=small hats) in broth are a typical dish of Emilia, traditionally cooked in capon broth for lunch on Christmas Day’ and ‘Born in Romagna but spread throughout central-northern Italy, they are one of the greatest expressions of homemade pasta‘.

And of course, there are multiple recipes online of you just google the name.

2. We tried making the recipe with only cheese filling and the broth was already pre-prepared (by an Italian foodie). Constructing the perfect hats with the perfect amount of filling was not the hardest part. It was actually learning how to close them well enough so that the filling would not escape while boiling. We used a drop of water to close it more firm and it worked perfectly. And for the broth – good soup, 10/10.

3. This is the mystery part. Although we just had cooked the cappelletti with our own hands and literally everyone makes the cappelletti for Christmas and although there are hundreds of recipes online, Italians try to escape answering the question ‘what’s inside your cappelletti’ by all means. No eye contact, nothing. Anxiety in the air. They will be happy to share the recipe for the broth but for the cappelletti – either they don’t know because only the grandma knows the exact recipe or they just ‘say’ their grandma knows the recipe and all the exact quantities.

Still a mystery?

So what is the closest I’ve gotten to the traditional cappelletti recipe from all those shady answers? 

The most common recipe is a broth made of a mix of meat such as chicken and beef. The pasta is filled with a mix (stop with the mixed) of cheeses – could be a fresh cheese, a variety of ricotta, nutmeg and parmesan. The ricotta can only be bought in this region, that’s what makes it Romagnolo. But, of course, no one can ‘remember’ the quantities. 

Even though we cannot get what we came here for, I still think this research raises good questions and gives us insight into the nation and culture.

Italians always say how important it is to cook the pasta the correct way and how everyone else does it wrong, yet when asked about the recipes, they are very reluctant to reveal them. Is that their way of making sure they stay at the top of the food game? Are they feeling stressed by all the crazy pasta recipes going around and want to stay pure in their ways? Or maybe it’s not even about foreigners and they consider the recipes as their family secrets not even trusting their close friends (based on the fact how important families are in Italy).

All these theories make sense to me, yet what is the truth, we will never know. The only thing we do know is that you would have to work real hard (probably marry an Italian) for your share of family secrets, such as the Cappelletti Mystery.


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