Everyone loves Italian food! Wherever you go in the world, even in unlikely places such as Thailand and Malaysia, both of which have their own wonderful regional cuisine, you will find Italian restaurants, and most people cook at least one Italian staple, pasta, on a regular basis at home. It follows that if you are visiting Italy, you will want to explore the origins of some of your favourite Italian dishes and ingredients.
Food factories in Emilia Romagna.
A visit to the Emilia-Romagna region of north-eastern Italy will give you the opportunity to visit the production houses of some of Italy’s best-loved and most famous foods. The region is easily accessed from Bologna or Florence and the prized foods are made in and around the towns of Parma and Modena.
The three main foods you can see being manufactured from scratch are Prosciutto di Parma (Parma Ham), Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan Cheese) and Aceto Balsamico (Balsamic vinegar). These three products are the most famous of Italy’s food exports and are known far and wide. Visitors to the region will be pleased to know that Parma and Modena are quite close to each other which makes it really easy to visit these 3 factories in one day, and still have time to sip some local Lambrusco (sparkling red wine from the region) before the sun sets.
Food Experiences tours around Bologna and Parma.
The best way to visit all these factories is to go on an organised Culinary Tour, either using your own transport or, better yet, being collected at your hotel and driven around – this way you get to see more of the beautiful countryside.
The town of Parma is the home of Parmesan Cheese and Parma Ham (only Prosciutto from this little part of Italy may be called Parma Ham – likewise with the cheese – their region of origin is protected and similar products from other regions may not use the names.) A typical culinary tour to see the production of these products will start with a visit to one of the many Parmesan Cheese manufacturers in and around the town of Parma. The Parmesan production starts anew every single day, and you can watch the entire process from the arrival of the milk, to the storage in the cellars. You will also be taught how to differentiate between real Parmesan and copies, which is very helpful when you get back home.
After the cheese, you will go to Modena to see how the Balsamic vinegar, Italian “Black Gold” is made. This is a laborious artisanal procedure and you will leave with a better understanding of why the real thing is so expensive. You will also get to taste, and learn some of the correct uses of this delicious condiment.
The cherry on the top of your tour will be when you visit the little town of Langhirano, just south of Parma, which is the original home of Parma Ham. At the factory you will be guided through all the stages of producing a fine Parma Ham, which differs in some respects from ordinary Prosciutto Cotto (Dried Ham). The proof of the pudding is in the eating, they say, and you will end your tour with a tasting session and then go on to enjoy a fabulous lunch.
Winery tours in the Emilia Region
If you have a little more time, consider visiting some of the vineyards where the lovely regional Lambrusco is produced. A leisurely day driving through the peaceful Italian countryside and visiting some of the wineries will round-off your culinary adventure perfectly. Culinary tours can be tailor-made to suit your needs – just speak to your tour company.