“Tortellino” is the diminutive of “tortello”, which comes from “torta” (“cake” in English). It is thought that tortellini recipe was created by poor people in order to "recycle" the meat advanced from the table of nobles. The book "L'economia del cittadino in villa" by Vincenzo Tanara mentioned tortellini "cooked in butter" in 1664. The French traveler and bibliographer Valéry Pasquin mentioned a filling of "ground beef, egg yolks and parmesan", much more rude than the current tortellini stuffing in 1842.
Today, you can find tortellini in every part of the world, especially where Italian communities have a certain importance.
Tortellini in broth are the typical main course of the Christmas menu.
There are several legends about the origin of this dish. One of these attributes its birth to the city of Modena and in particular to the owner of Locanda Corona: peeking at a noblewoman housed at his inn through the keyhole, he was so impressed by the beauty of her navel to create the tortellini recipe that night.
A variant of the legend is inspired by the poem "Secchia rapita" (“The Stolen Bucket”) by Tassoni: after a day of battle between Bologna and Modena, Venus, Bacchus and Mars spent the night at the Locanda Corona in Modena. The next morning, Mars and Bacchus left the inn while Venus was still sleeping; as soon as she woke up, Venus called someone and the innkeeper came. He was so impressed by her beautiful shapes that he rushed to the kitchen and ripped a piece of dough, filled it and folded it giving it the shape of the goddess's navel.