The Gourmet Region: Emilia Romagna

The Emilia Romagna, when looked on a map, has boundaries made in linear fashion, a sort of harness between the Po’ and the Apennines with the watershed that diverge slightly towards the bow of the Adriatic coast. Inside we have the two pillars that identify homogeneous parts for landscapes and traditionally run longitudinally through the Via Emilia.  It is in fact the Roman road, which separates the plain from the mountains. Roughly at the height of Imola  we have the historical border  which divided Emilia under the Roman control from  the sphere of influence of barbaric domination, in this case Romagna.

These are the elements that represent geographically and historically our cuisine, it is surprising because of the presence of so many aspects in one small relatively area.  In the same region we have the northern European ancestry. In fact it is one of the reality Emilian gastronomy mainly  based on the rearing of pigs and the use of animal fat. The region has also a Mediterranean tradition such as sheep farming and olive oil. In Romagna has an alternative to bread. The Piadina is a dumpling cooked on cast iron skillet, on also known as piada, and often eaten with ham, salami or soft cheeses. Probably eating flat breads has a Byzantine origin.

In Emilia we have  an astonishing line up of salumi, in Romagna on the other hand a pecorino cheese that acquires a unique flavour by ageing it in a pit. Emilia’s  cooking is rich and persuasive, in Romagna the flavours are a more vigorous and earthy. This is the results of centuries of history and also the differences have been diluted and new realities overlapped to create this modern geography of food.  Indeed such is the variety of products that you want to proceed in a systematic manner. It is worth to travel along the Via Emilia looking out the window with the curiosity of the connoisseur.

The first appointment is Piacenza: salamis in the Apennines (coppa, salami and pancetta) and fine wines, including red and sparkling Gutturnio. The cuisine has influlences from the nearby  Lombardy, Piedmont and Liguria regions. Parma follows: the land of a great gastronomical heritage, just think of the Parmesan cheese, Parma ham and Culatello from Zibello with an aromatic Malvasia to be their frame. It is art. A culinary tradition that has caught on all over the world. Then it was the turn of Reggio Emilia, which is the cradle of the  Parmigiano Reggiano and the beginning of Lambrusco production area, a sparkling red wine, which is dear to many Italians. In Modena again salami and Zampone are the kings. On the hills, we have the  Lambrusco grasparossa and the famous Vignola’s cherries. The sharp end of the Emilian cuisine is in Bologna, where the pasta is in the form of tagliatelle, tortellini or lasagna, and the sauce is meaty and it accompanies pasta with dignity.

In the north of Bologna we find Ferrara, with the sumptuous salama da sugo and the wines of the Bosco Eliceo. The grapes are cultivated on the sands of the Po Delta.
By the time we get to  Castel San Pietro Romagna begins, mixing the flavours of the Apennines and the Adriatic sea. Ravenna, with the olive oil of Brisighella and the first vineyards of fine Albana wine.

Forli and Cesena, where component of the cuisine are mainly form the Apennines, with meat and game reminiscent of Tuscan cuisine, and finally Rimini, with plenty of tomato fish soup with strong vinegar and pepper flavours, opening the way to Central Italy, leading to the valleys of Montefeltro in Le Marche region.

In Emilia Romagna there are  13 designated gourmet routes that the tourist can follow, they are well designed and fully operational, The Enoteca Regionale di Dozza (BO) is the headquarters of the gourmet experience with a calendar full of events, from town festivals to street food fairs.

 

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