Tigelle modenesi, a feast round the fire
Tigelle modenesi are small savoury muffins, a street food that encapsulates Italian conviviality. Although originally called “crescentine”, they eventually took on the name of the terracotta discs they are cooked on. Known as tigelle, these plates were a mix of chestnut-wood earth and heat-resistant material. The word tigelle derives from the Latin “tegula”, or cover.
The dough consists of flour, lard (substituted with extra-virgin olive oil in the vegetarian version), yeast and water (all natural ingredients): this mixture is spread onto each pre-heated disc, sandwiched between chestnut leaves. These “wheels” are stacked up and placed in front of the fireplace, where chatting passes the time as the tigelle cook. Once ready, everybody fills their owntigelle to their liking, which is why it is such a companionable dish, bringing cooks and patrons together around the table. This convivial aspect makes it an ideal street snack, and indeed, tigelle modenesi are the undisputed king of festivals in Emilia.
The filling is usually local cold cuts or cheeses, but traditionally tigelle modenesi are filled with “cunza”, a kind of Modena pesto made with rosemary. Italian street food at its best!