Extending between the rolling hills of Tuscany and the canals of Venice, Emilia Romagna produces some of Italy’s best food. It is the birthplace of tortellini pasta, Prosciutto di Parma ham, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, and Mortadella. The traditional slightly sparkling red wine perfectly pairs with the rich cheese and meat dishes of the region.
Tortellini pasta originated in Emilia-Romagna. Legend has it that an innkeeper in the town of Castelfranco Emilia caught of glimpse of the goddess of love, Venus. Moved by her image, he created a pasta inspired by the shape of Venus’ navel. In Emilia Romagna, tortellini pasta is made by hand and served at special occasions. Recipes are handed down through generations. It is a celebrated part of the gastronomic culture of the region.
Bologna, the capital of Emilia-Romagna, is considered by many to also be the gastronomic capital of Italy. It is most famous as the birthplace of Mortadella sausage.
Balsamic vinegar originates from Modena, Italy. Today it is easy to find an inexpensive version of balsamic vinegar in any grocery store, but the Traditional Balsamic of Modena, is thick and concentrated – it is a truly unique specialty food item. This special product is protected by European law’s designation of origin (DOP) and must be made entirely from reduced grape must comprised only of Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes, aged in small oak barrels for a minimum of 12 years.
The famous cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, was created in the area surrounding the cities of Parma and Reggio Emilia. Developed originally by monks in the middle ages, by the Renaissance the distinctive hard cheese became prized by nobility throughout Europe. Today, the name Parmesan (or Parmigiano) is protected by the government and must come from the Emilia Romagna region and adhere to strict quality standards.
Parma is also known for being one of the two famous Italian cities for producing Prosciutto (the other being San Daniele, in Friuli). Translating directly to ‘ham from Parma’ in Italian, Prosciutto di Parma is produced from a special breed of Italian pig and cannot contain additives.