The ‘UNESCO DISTRICT’ is also an immense gastronomic gold mine, a son of the past of this great district and its culinary rituals and of the people who inhabit it. An unimaginable heritage of traditional recipes, a rich hamper of local products, DOP, DOC and IGP and an ancient heritage of old and delicate production processes:
Emilia Romagna Gastronomy
Very few regions rival Emilia Romagna in having so many typical dishes that best represent Italian cuisine to foreigners. Italy is a gourmet country and it is no coincidence that Pellegrino Artusi was born here, author of the famous ‘The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well’ which created the base for a national scientific gastronomy. Emilia Romagna is the king of egg based, stuffed pasta: lasagne, tortelli, tortellini and cappelleti were all born here. Pasta is stuffed and flavoured in a different way depending on the different regional traditions. Tortellini in particular can be served with cream or pancetta or with the well renowned ragù Bolognese, the iconic Emilia-Romagna sauce. Ragù is traditionally paired with lasagne and tagliatelle, other famous inventions of the region. Tagliatelle, on the other hand, is often paired with a variety of sauces, with truffle of with a walnut sauce, as is done in Piacenza. The kind of tagliatelle from bologna is shorter and called gramigna, usually paired with a sausage based sauce. Not forgetting ‘pisarei e faso’ (gnocchi with beans), and the famous soups like passatelli, pasta rasa, manfrigoli and tardura. The ‘secondi piatti’ (a meat or fish dish) are just as impressive as the ‘primi piatti’ (traditionally a pasta dish): the ‘cotechino’ (a cooked pork sausage) and pig’s trotters with a lentil stew are simply unmissable, as is the sausage in sauce, the Ferrarese mosaic of coppa, pancetta, fat from Gola, liver, head and tongue of pork soaked in sangiovese, marsala and brandy and flavoured with cloves and cinnamon. White meat too is particularly loved in the region: chicken, turkey and guinea-fowl prepared with Bolognese, herbs, wine and egg yolk, or prepared in the romagnola hunter style, covered with bacon and cooked with pancetta and tomatoes. The Po Delta, on the other hand, is the king of cooking eels in many different ways: Comacchion eels, eel stew with raisins and pine nuts, and marinated eel. Very popular in Ravenna are frogs, either eaten in soup or fried, and stuffed shrimp. Noteworthy to remember is the choice of course-grained flour in all of the ‘piadine romagnola’ (a type of sandwich which can be likened to a cross between a tortilla wrap and pitta bread), stuffed with cured meats and cottage cheese and dipped in oil from Brisghella. Emilia-Romagna also boasts a sensational catalogue of certified typical products: not to be forgotten are Piacenza’s coppa (an air-cured pork meat), Bologna’s mortadella (a salami), Parma ham DOP, selected porks from Large White, Duroc and Landrance, Modena ham, Zibello’s culatello (a cured pork meat), strolghine (a spreadable salami), Felino salami, San Secondo shoulder, the ‘capello da prete’ (boned and salted shin), and the ‘mariola’ (a sausage made with all parts of the pig and even eaten raw). Emilia-Romagna also brings us the king of cheeses, the famous Parmigiano Reggiano. Savor, or mustard from Carpi, is a delicacy originally made of saba, fermented grapes cooked with raisins, apple and candied oranges and is ideal for boiling. The highly valued balsamic vinegar of Modena is perfect for marinating food in. Finally the wine: Emilia-Romagna boasts a very good tradition of wine that produces a fantastic series of bottles from non-native grapes, brought from the areas the Bolognese Hills, Imola, Parma, Piacenza and Rimini. The prestigious Albana di Romagna DOCG is dry and sweet, the fizzy and well loved Lambrusco from the Sorbara denomination is unmissable, there is the wine from Castelvetro and Salamino Santacroce; the Pagadebit made from white Bombino grapes should be tasted, as should the Reno from Montù grapes, Trebbiano and Sangiovese from Romagna, and the wines from the Eliceo woods.
The Lombard agroindustrial production of buttonhole flowers are products of a high quality that represent the fruits of a farming activity that has maintained and kept alive the traditions, without ignoring the developments of technology. The typical products live on, results of particular traditions, linked to production sites all with peculiar characteristics: terrains and climates for the successful harvesting of fruit, pastures and hilly countryside that gives a specific flavour to milk and cheese, humidity and wind for the perfect maturing of certain salamis, and the exposure or sloping of the vineyards. Strictly bound to natural factors, the techniques of work are one of the other traditional elements.
Today Lombardy can boast 31 certified products, 19 of which are DOP and 12 are IGP.
Also the Lombard wines are still characterised by a wide variety of producing zones, which are distinguished by climatic and geographic conditions: there is a richness that extends from the terraced slopes of the Valtellina to the moraine areas of Lakes Garda and Iseo, reaching to the Appennine hills of Oltrepo Pavese and low Padania. The outlook on Lombard wine has evolved over the years, today achieving a level of excellence that puts it among the most interesting wines in Italy. The Lombard production is characterised by its high quality and it boasts 5 DOCG, 22 DOC and 15 IGT certifications. The Lombard produce that can be referred to as being typical are cheeses like Gorgonzola or Grana Padano, Bitto, Salame Varzi or Salva Cremasco. Other such ‘niche’ products are the extra virgin olive oils from the Lakes (Garda and Lombard), or the Formai de Mut dell’Alta Val Bremba and the Formagella del Luinese, produced in the high mountainous area of the Varese province. The Lombard culinary heritage also stars a further 228 products defined as traditional, characteristic of a local environment in which agriculture and artisans have excellently developed their food, using very simple, often familiar techniques, in harmony with the place’s location.