If the image above seems a little bit blurry, please don’t blame the photographer!

The photo is actually in focus: It’s not blur that you see but rather the steam coming up off the ravioli.

Those are Piedmont’s famous ravioli al tovagliolo, “napkin ravioli.”

Traditionally, the dish is made with Piedmont’s classic filled pasta agnolotti (stay tuned for another post about those). But napkin ravioli can be served with whatever stuffed pasta you prefer.

The ravioli are cooked until al dente, strained of their cooking water, wrapped in a clean cloth napkin or kitchen towel, and then served in the middle of the dinner table. Guests then help themselves while the ravioli are still piping hot (that’s why there’s steam coming up off the pasta in the photo).

Legend has it that this tradition was born when people would carry napkin-wrapped ravioli to workers in the field.

Today, people love to serve these at parties as finger food since they are traditionally eaten without utensils.

But part of the magic of this dish is that you eat the ravioli piping hot, without any sauce or sprinkled cheese. The flavors really pop when the pasta is hot like that. And it’s also a super fun and easy way to add flair to a gathering of friends (especially when one or more have never had it before!).

This is the first in our new series of #IMissItaly posts. They will be Piedmont-focused but we’ll also venture out to other regions as well.