The ﬁrst American who focused on the northern Italian region, Emilia Romagna, was food writer, cookbook author and radio host Lynne Rossetto Kasper. Lynne spent a number of years traveling around the region, learning from home cooks, chefs, and producers in order to document the culinary treasures of Emilia Romagna. The result in 1992 was the ground-breaking book, The Splendid Table, which won the Cookbook of the Year from both the International Association of Culinary Professionals and the James Beard Foundation. The Splendid Table became the name of Lynne’s award-winning food radio show that is still on the air, even after Lynne’s retirement.
While people from all over Italy, as well as chefs around the world, have always known that Emilia Romagna is “Italy’s food region,” the rest of the world has, most often, only known its signature products—traditional balsamic vinegar, Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, and pasta.
But is it only these admittedly world class food products that make Emilia Romagna so special? There is so much to love about Parma and all of Emilia Romagna. What is it?
Food writer David Rosengarten, writing in Forbes a few years ago, tallied up his favorite meals on a trip visiting three regions in Italy, and ﬁve out of six were in Emilia Romagna. David theorizes that “there is great food being made all over Italy, but I can’t think of another place where food comes to the table as proudly as it does in Emilia-Romagna. And it’s not a noisy bragadoccio…it’s simply…’this is what we do. This is what my grandmother did.’ I know, I know, that’s not uncommon in Italy…but the scale of this attitude in Emilia-Romagna, and the percentage of chefs and restaurants that really do hit the sublime, traditional spot, consistently…in my mind, these things set the whole region apart.”
In Conde Nast Traveler, Patrick Symes opined that “there are greater things in Italy than in Parma alone. But for a ﬁrst-time visitor like me, this was more than enough. Parmese say you eat twice: ﬁrst at the table, then by talking about it. The food traditions here are among the oldest and most continuous in Europe, giving people enough time to try and reject every adornment, leaving a plateau of quality, a rare combination of inventiveness and simplicity.”
Award winning travel bloggers, The Planet D, described the region as, “Home to Pavarotti, Enzo Ferarri, Ferruccio Lamborghini, the Ducati brothers and the artist Parmigianino. It’s the land of Parmesan cheese and Balsamic vinegar, it’s also the gastronomical capital of the country. There are so many reasons to love Emilia Romagna, you may never want to leave. It’s funny because before visiting this province in the North of Italy, we didn’t even know it existed.”
At Oldways, we do know it exists, and that’s why we have brought travelers to this region for Oldways Culinarias, exploring the culinary and cultural treasures of this remarkable region. We’ll return again, once this time of the pandemic and social distancing are behind us. We hope you’ll join us then. Right now, before it’s time to travel again, we hope you enjoy learning all about Emilia Romagna and the special ingredients that are part of the land, the cuisine, and what makes it all so special.
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