These are ‘piadine’ (plural, ‘piadina’ singular, let’s get things straight). And they are delicious.
It’s a food typical of this region ‘Romagna’, the eastern side of Emilia Romagna, it is a flat bread usually made with white flour, lard or olive oil, salt and water. The dough was traditionally cooked on a terracotta dish, although nowadays flat pans or electric griddles are commonly used. And it’s delicious. It’s sold in kiosk all over the region and it’s proper street food, cheap and freshly made. It’s eating during meals instead of bread, or with cold cuts of meat, or cheese… I like the double ones, closed in half like a ‘calzone’, filled with ‘herbs’, or tomato and mozzarella.
Piadine are cheap, 0.75 Euro for a plain one, £2.50 for a filled one. And need to be eaten fresh, the next day they are already hard.
Mum and I de-toured off the motorway to get some at an old favourite place, queueing with the locals like we used to do when we live here.
Every time I eat one is a real Proustian Madeleines moment… those ephemeral moments that last only the length of a breath and then they’re gone, that leave you with the memory of a memory, the feeling of the past. This food, this taste, this city is part of me. It is my past, it is who I was and who I left behind and have become.
At the end of the road there was a green grocer who used to gift me juicy San Marzano tomatoes every time mum shopped there. Behind the kiosk is the police Academy where dad used to work and behind that the first home I remember. I can close my eyes and see all places I used to go, the schools I attended, the friends’ homes, the running track, the shops, the parks, the churches, the streets… all connected by million of steps taken, and cycle rides and moped rides and later by car journeys… like a tight spider web that nevertheless couldn’t hold me here.
Do I miss it? No. I don’t regret leaving.
Am I glad it still exists?. Yes, I am.