Marie Louise, wife of Napoleon and Duchess of Parma, once said: “It’s not hard to live in Parma, you only need to express your agreement with your interlocutor, especially when they’re talking about music and food”. Known as the home-town of Giuseppe Verdi and Arturo Toscanini, and also as the city where Niccolò Paganini lived for most of his life, Parma due its fame to its amazing cuisine and classic music. Appointed main base of the EFSA, European Food Safety Authority, in 2004 and home of the big food multinational Barilla, Parma is the Italian city to visit if you’re a big-time foodie. Let’s explore the mouth-watering delicacies that await you in Parma!
Black Truffle of Fragno & Porcino Mushrooms
Black Truffle of Fragno and Porcino Mushrooms are very typical in this area and can be easily found in the woods around the “Appennino”. People all over the world come here to look for these delicious mushrooms and truffles, which can be very refined and expensive as well. The two main places which are famous for the “Porcino” are Albareto and Borgotaro, two little towns which can be easily reached by car (Borgotaro also by train) within an hour.
Culatello di Zibello
This very particular meat is made from the boned hind muscle of the pig’s tight, the same one that is usually used to make prosciutto. The culatello, though, It’s a little bit different from the prosciutto: it’s lightly salted and spicedi, then tucked into a pig’s bladder, webbed with string, dried for two to three months and then transferred to a humid, dirt-floored cellar for 5-12 months of aging. The culatello is well known everywhere, the Prince of Wales himself, Charles, orders this kind of meat regularly from Zibello every year for his own table. There is a whole itinerary called the Road of Culatello di Zibello, which includes many different small towns that you can visit and discover the process of how it is made and where. It requires a whole day or a weekend to do it because it’s around 80 kms.
Salame di Felino
This salami has been produced in a little town (20kms out of Parma) for the past two centuries. Only made with pigs meat, the salami is seasoned for at least a month or two in very specific places, and according to the tradition, once that the salami it’s ready it must be cut in a diagonal way of 60°, so the grain will be empathized. In Felino, where this salami was borned and it has always been produced, there is inside the main Castle a museum which it’s possible to visit to learn everything about its history and how it’s been produced and made. The “Salame di Felino” also had to be protected by the IGP brand, so it will always be known where it was made. “Il Cavalier Boschi” is definitely the best one to get in Felino
Cappelletti in brodo
One of the most famous and typical dish in Parma is the “cappelletti in brodo” which are often cooked during Christmas day, and are a big part of the city’s tradtion. The women in the families have been passed the recipe of this homemade pasta which kind of looks like a “tortellino” just a little bit flatter and made with meat inside, then served in hot chicken broth (they can be served even without broth during the summer months, with some extra cheese). The pasta is often homemade as well as the “stuffing”, which includes ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, eggs, nutmeg and the meat (stew that needs to be cooked for at least 8/10 hours). The restaurant Cocchi is definitely one of the best place to go to in Parma to enjoy this delicious dish, which is a must try once you’re in town. http://www.ristorantecocchi.it
Another typical and amazing food that you’ll be able to find once you’re in Parma it’s the “torta fritta”. Often served with ham and all other kinds of prosciutto, culatello, coppa and salami, the torta fritta is made with flour, water, salt and brewer’s yeast. It may look like a “fluffier” kind of bread but the taste is completely different (it’s fried that’s one of the main reason”. It’s delicious with Prosciutto di Parma, and it’s the perfect dish to have as a start before enjoying the others typical plates. Don’t forget to order a glass of “Lambrusco” with it: it’s one of the main wine in the region and it goes absolutely perfect with this combo.
Probably the most famous and best cheese in the world, due to it’s ingredients which are all naturals and the fact that it’s made with no preservatives at all ( as opposed to Grana Padano, which it might be cheaper but it’s made with a lot of preservatives and it’s not good at all for you) , the Parmigiano Reggiano can only be produced in this very specific area: first of all you need really big areas for the breeding, this is why the country side around Parma, which is parte of the “Pianura Padana” it’s perfect, because it’s massive and flat, and these areas also need to have a lot of water around because the animals are pretty big sizes. Also, in Salsomaggiore, there is a big quantity of salt which is indispensable for the production of the Parmigiano Reggiano. This is why the area where the cheese is being made is very important and why it can’t be made anywhere else. The Parmigiano is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk. The aging time has a minimum of 12 months, and it can goes up to 36 months.
Prosciutto di Parma
The “other” most famous food in the world, made in Parma is its Prosciutto. Pretty hard to find, at least the really good one, the Prosciutto it’s cured with air, salt and nothing else. Since the Roman times, this area as been perfect for the “Prosciutto”, which is dry and sweet smelling with aromatic breezes in the “Appenini”, which are the perfect natural conditions for drying these high quality hams. Carefully controlled and measured by many experts, the Prosciutto is definitely the best prosciutto in the world. The museum of Prosciutto is located in Langhirano, where you will be able to discover everything about this really old tradition and all the process that need to be done in order to create this masterpiece: only the hams with the five-pointed Ducal Crown are qualified as the “real” hams and it means also that they have been through every processing stages and rewards the commitment of the ham’s producers.
Tortelli di erbetta
The tortelli is another very typical dish in Parma. They can be made with potatoes, pumpkin or with spinaches, ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese. The pasta is a large homemade “tortello” which is then stuffed with one of the two options just mentioned, and they can all be served individually or as a “duo”, meaning that the dish will include all these two different “tortelli”, so the guest will be able to try them all out. The stuffing is usually very rich, that’s why usually you don’t have many “tortelli” in your plate, but it can depend from how big they have been made. Parmesan cheese is often put on the top of these, to make them taste even more better. There are many fairs around Parma during the year that are all dedicated to this kind of food.
Rosa di Parma
This Parma-style rolled tenderloin roast is often cooked in the city. It’s a main course and it’s a very rich dish. In this recipe you will be able to find 3 other ingredients typical of the region, such as parmesan cheese, Prosciutto di Parma that will be put inside ( the dish takes its name from it because the inside once it’s cooked will look like a rose) and a wine that is produced in the region called “Lambrusco”.
Duchessa di Parma
This caked has apparently been named after Marie Louise, the Duchess of Parma. It’s a very traditional cake in town, and it has been made by may different Patisseries such as “Pagani” and Pasticceria Torino” or “Battistini”. It’s made with chocolate and it has delicious candied red cherries on the top of the cake. The flour used is the hazelnuts one, perfect to make the cake taste amazing. It’s surely not an easy cake to make, so it’s highly recommend, even if you’ll fine many recipes online, to go try a slice in one of the patisseries in town.