Stuck with stale bread? Do as the Romans (or more accurately, the Italians of Trentino-Alto Adige) do, and create Canederli.

Essentially a bread dumpling, Canederli is a ball of stale bread, ‘moistened with milk and bound with eggs and a small amount of flour.’ Speck, a local type of cured meat, and cheese, such as fontina or gouda, add a more vivacious flavour to the quenelle.

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Served either dry with butter or as a duo or tris di Canederli in broth, this dish can be found in Italian restaurants all around the world (like here and here). The dessert version of the dish (fruit-stuffed Canederli), however, is rarely found outside of Trentino-Alto Adige.

A northeastern and autonomous region, the mountainous Trentino-Alto Adige has a complex political and financial past. Even during the Battle for Grain, poverty-stricken citizens of this area would dine on northern peasant fare of ‘God’s sweetest gift’, fruit and meats.

Cooking in a style unique to its geographic positioning, strong Italian-Austrian-German foundations are visible in Trentino-Alto Adige cuisine: Canederli, for instance, comes from the German knödel (‘dumpling’), yet features inherently Italian flavours of parsley and speck.

Despite having been controlled by Italy, Austria and Germany at various points, having five official languages, and changing name more than a dozen times, Trentino-Alto Adige has essentially formed its own identity through the production of Canederli.

‘Academia Barilla’ forming quenelles of Canederli

Embracing the ingredients of the north-east, the simplicity of la cucina povera and the cooking methods of neighbouring countries, Canederli represents the melange of three nations; that despite national differences, food is a symbol of peace and unity.


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