No trip to Emilia Romagna, the gastronomic capital of Italy, would be complete without taking home some edible souvenirs! This is particularly the case if you have had time to attend a cookery class and learnt how to prepare some of the local specialities. Many of the wonderful ingredients that you can find on every street corner in this part of Italy are just not available outside the country, and if you are lucky enough to find the genuine article, it will cost a great deal more than here, where it is produced. Not only can you amaze your friends back home when you serve them some of the dishes, but these delectable edible souvenirs make great gifts for all your “foodie” friends! Here are some of the main treats to look out for when doing your shopping for food souvenirs, but I am sure you will find several others to add to this list.
Parmesan Cheese – the REAL thing! No doubt you will have been on a tour to see how Parmegiano-Reggiano is produced, and will know how to tell if the product you are buying is the genuine article. This is one of the most popular exports from the region and it is easy to take some home with you, as it can be transported for a short time without refrigeration.
Balsamic Vinegar – a beautiful syrupy aged Balsamic vinegar from Modena makes a wonderful food souvenir for yourself (it is rather pricey, but well-worth the extravagance), or a really special friend. You can buy Balsamic vinegars that have been aged for over 25 years, but a more modest 12 year-old product is more affordable and you should not leave without a few bottles of this truly artisanal product.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Brisighella – this is no ordinary Olive Oil, but a really special product produced in the hilly valleys of the Tosco-Romagnolo mountains, where geography and climate come together to produce ideal conditions for Olives. The resultant oil produced in this region has a very distinctive emerald green colour, low acidity and a wonderful mouth-feel. The oil exhibits a medium to strong fruitiness with a slightly bitter aftertaste with the distinct impression of herbs and almonds.
Nocino Liquor from Modena – a popular and delightful liquor made from unripe walnuts, originating in Modena. There are many versions of this tipple, and many local people make their own batch each year. The commercially available product makes a great gift or souvenir to take home with you.
Salt from Cervia – is another unique product to tuck into your suitcase. The salt flats of Cervia have been producing salt for centuries, by means of channelling the Mediterranean Sea water into a series of salt pans, where the water is allowed to evaporate naturally, producing a less-processed form of table salt which still retains traces of other minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium as well as iodine. It is a healthier and cleaner type of salt, and makes a great gift. The town also produces various other salt-related products, such as salt chocolates and several beauty preparations which also make interesting and unusual gifts for souvenirs.