Mortadella Sandwich – Laura in the Kitchen – OMG

Mortadella Sandwich

Laura in the Kitchen


Mortadella is a large Italian sausage or luncheon meat  made of finely hashed or ground, heat-cured pork, which incorporates at least 15% small cubes of pork fat (principally the hard fat from the neck of the pig). Mortadella is a product of Bologna, Italy. It is flavoured with spices, including whole or ground black pepper, myrtle berries, and pistachios.





Traditionally, the pork filling was ground to a paste using a large mortar  and pestle. Two Roman funerary steles in the archaeological museum of Bologna show such mortars. Alternatively, according to Cortelazzo and Zolli Dizionario Etimologico della Lingua Italiana 1979-88, mortadella derives its name from a Roman sausage flavoured with myrtle in place of pepper.




The Romans called the sausage farcimen mirtatum (myrtle sausage), because the sausage was flavoured with myrtle berries, a popular spice before pepper became available to European markets. Anna Del Conte (The Gastronomy of Italy 2001) found a sausage mentioned in a document of the official body of meat preservers in Bologna dated 1376 that may be mortadella.




Mortadella originated in Bologna, the capital of Emilia-Romagna; elsewhere in Italy it may be made either in the Bolognese manner or in a distinctively local style. The mortadella of Prato is a Tuscan speciality flavoured with pounded garlic and coloured with alchermes. The mortadella of Amatrice, high in the Apennines of northern Lazio, is unusual in being lightly smoked. Because it originated in Bologna, this contributed to the naming of the American sausage meat “bologna“.


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A similar commercial sausage product that omits the cubes of pork fat, called bologna, is popular in the United States. A variety that includes olives and pimentos is called olive loaf.

Mortadella was banned from import into the United States from 1967 to 2000 due to an outbreak of African swine fever in Italy. This ban was a pivotal part of the plot of the 1971 film La mortadella starring Sophia Loren. The title for the United States release was Lady Liberty.


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