What Is Mortadella And What Does It Taste Like?

Ah, mortadella. Some may call it the bologna of Italy, but it's truly so much more than that. Yes, it's a cold cut that adorns sandwiches both hot and cold and finds its way on charcuterie boards (especially in the Northern Emilia-Romagna of the country). But, what exactly is mortadella, what does it taste like, and why should you try it? We figured it out for you.

Mortadella is an emulsified sausage that originated in Bologna, Italy, The Spruce Eats notes. It sometimes contains pistachios and has added flavors of black pepper and myrtle berries. The meat is known to have a spotted look, with white dots seen throughout the pale pink meat. This is due to its extra fat content, as mortadella is made with at least 15% pork fat cubes.

Mortadella that comes out of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy is actually labeled "Mortadella Bologna." Other types of mortadella are not given that distinction and usually follow a more strict recipe.

What does mortadella taste like?

While you may assume that mortadella may taste like the cold cut bologna, you're not wrong, but not exactly right, either. Mortadella is rich and fatty and the spices and pistachios are designed to give the meat several layers of flavor.

Bologna, by contrast, is not as rich in flavor and can sometimes even taste a bit bland in comparison to mortadella. The main reason for the blander taste is that in bologna, the fat and meat are emulsified into one uniform mixture whereas in mortadella, the fat is throughout the meat, which supplements the flavor.

But, the feeling in the mouth is the same. Both mortadella and bologna have a silky texture, as most cold cuts do, making it an easy one to enjoy in basically any type of dish. Yes, even a cooked one, like meatballs or even a dish like baked macaroni.

Where can you find mortadella?

Quality mortadella may not always be easy to find, because if you're really wanting to try this, it has to be right. Some supermarkets have well-stocked deli counters, and you may be lucky enough to find it there. And, if you can wait for it, you may be able to find it through a delivery service or online. However, there is one place that you should always be able to find you some delicious mortadella — Italian specialty stores. 

Unsure what to ask for when making a mortadella purchase? When shopping for the meat, flavor and texture are the most important things to look for. 

Once purchased, you can feel free to treat mortadella as you would any other cold cut. Store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator, and it should stay for about a week. 

While you may get somewhat addicted to this meat (because it's delicious!), remember that it is part of the cold cut family and shouldn't be eaten every day.