Bologna | Modena | Parma | Piacenza | Reggio
Emilia | Ferrara
The region of Emilia-Romagna is an area rich of culinary traditions and whose cooking has expanded in
Italy and all over the world. The region is famous for the Parmigiano
cheese and for the rearing of hogs that are fed with the whey
leftover in the production of the cheese.
The pork meat is turned into cured meats, as did the Etruscans back in time and a myriad of pork products
like salami, cotechino, la
salama (sic) da sugo,
mortadella, and the famous Prociutto di
Parma, made in the area are the best in the world.
Since the times of the Etruscans, the region of Emilia-Romagna has been well-known for the cultivation of a large
variety of vegetables, legumes and fruits and for rearing animals for food. Having the Po’ river crossing their
land, fish was on hand, and game was copious in the bountiful forests: these provisions became part of their diet
and a part of their cooking tradition.
Today Emilia-Romagna is also famous for the stuffed pasta, tortellini
and cappelletti, small
ravioli stuffed with meat, cheese, vegetables or a combination of them. Also, to name a few local
passatelli, which is a special pasta for soups, the piadina
a unique type of bread baked in Romagna, the ciupeta
is a crunchy light bread baked exclusively in Ferrara in the
shape of a double knot with the ends twisted and called crostini. Rice and polenta
also are typical regional fares.
Bologna is called la dotta, the learned
one, because it houses the Bologna University founded in the XI century; the oldest in Europe with over 100.000
students. It is also called la
fat one in reference to gastronomic specialties that this city offers.
are typical egg pasta.
The ragu’ alla
Bolognese is the classic meat sauce famous around the
Mortadella is an appetizer made with minced mortadella,
cheese and some cream, served with lot of bread to dip in it;
is a sauce made with sliced onions sautéed with lard and tomato,
served with pork skin or sausages or boiled beef.
is an assortment of various cut of boiled beef: a popular
dish throughout the region.
Bolognese is made enriched with local ham, wine and cheese,
typical in the region, consists of many fried ingredients such as vegetables, dairy, various meats and
entrails. The tripe with garlic, onion, beef broth and finished with eggs and grated cheese, is a delicious
is a characteristic big Bolognese
made with pork grounded to a paste and flavored with myrtle
berries, pistachios and black peppers; it is imitated in the USA and called bologna.
is a fruit cake containing honey, fruits mustard, candied
fruits, marmalade, pine nuts, almonds, cocoa, chocolate, and cinnamon. The Ciambellone
is a ring shaped yeast dough cake made with fruits and nuts
that goes well with lambrusco
Modena offers cappellacci con
zucca, ravioli with pumpkin, maltagliati
with beans, risotto with chicken, thezampone, a mixture
of minced pork meats, made into a sausage with the skin of the pig's front leg,bolliti
assorted cuts of boiled beef, served with a zest sauce,
other pork dishes and specialties; and the famous balsamic
vinegar, …..red Ferraris and Pavarotti, the loved tenor,
born in Modena…
Torta nera, a chocolate-coffee cake and the turnover stuffed with fruit’s mustard, chestnuts and nuts are only two
of the many delicious desserts made in Modena. To conclude the meals, a glass of Nocino, a tasty
and digestive liqueur obtained from the shell of the walnut, is appreciated; also produced in Sassuolo
an anisette liqueur.
cheese, prociutto, and an assortment of salami are produced
Parma, Piacenza and Reggio Emilia.
Erdelyi wrote about her Modena’s visit:
“After an overnight in Parma, we moved on to Modena the home of Balsamic Vinegar. Never knew the origin of Balsamic
(now I do), coming from the Roman times "balsa" or healing. After watching the cooking vats, we saw where the
vinegar was stored in wooden barrels (like wine) and tasted some that was 30 years, 60 years and 120 years old. The
120 year old vinegar was processed by the owner’s grandfather. We didn't care for the 60 and 120 variety, but the
30 year old was almost sweet tasting and slightly creamy […]”
In the province of Parma, Val di Taro is known for the
describes any food served topped with Parmesan cheese such as
cutlets, spinach, celery or eggplants.
rolled-out fresh dough, is cut into tagliatelle,
or used to enclose the delicate fillings of cappelletti,
or other types of ravioli.
are round ravioletti
stuffed with a combination of grated Parmesan cheese,
breadcrumbs, eggs and cooked in broth.
Parmigiana is made with pancetta or lard, oil, butter, onions,
garlic and with a little tomato paste and parmesan cheese, or in the white version replacing the tomato with broth.
In the province of Parma tomatoes are grown in large amounts and it is Italy’s largest manufacturer of tomato
From the abundant and well fed hogs, Parma produces the best prociutto and the culatello,
a rare and pursued cold cut obtained from the rear of
the thigh, it is artesian produced and only in small quantities. Other specialties are the coppa
which is made with the cooked and seasoned remnants of pig’s
carcasses, whereas the coppa
is made from the cured, raw collar or loin of a pig,
marinated in a blend of garlic and red wine, compressed inside a large piece of sausage skin and cured.
Thecotechino is a
fresh sausage made with skin and pork meat usually boiled and served with polentaand lentils. Thepancetta is pork
belly and similar to American bacon, it is cured with salt but it is not smoked and it’s rolled and tied in a
cylindrical shape, then hung to dry.
is a round, flat cake made of a tender, crunchy short dough crust,
filled with crumbled biscuits, honey, almonds, pine nuts, raisins and candied orange and citron.
The province of Parma is the birthplace of Verdi,
headquarters of the multinational Barilla
Sorbara wine is produced in the province.
“[…] Then the tour moved on to Parma. I will never look at a piece of prociutto ham again without
thinking of this place. We went to a ham processing plant; they process 50,000 hams a year that is 1000 a week!
The place was SPOTLESS, not (the common) odor [....] you know when you go into a deli […] (and) get hit with the
aroma of all the cold cuts! Not in this place. Among the things we learned is that as part of the processing
procedure, which takes 120 days or so, they open the windows in the plant so that the air/breezes can come into
the plant and surround the hanging hams and help cure them. This air phase is what identifies it as "Parma"
We had a very nice dinner there with FRESH Parma ham, and other cured meats, salad, pasta
(hey, we are in Italy) etc.”
The place of birth of the founder of the Boyardee Co., Ettore Boiardi and Giorgio Armani was Piacenza.
Piacentina is a cheese that cannot be called Parmigiano
but has all the features and characteristics of the
Pasta is made in the Emilian tradition and served with ragu’ or vegetables. Piacenza is the home of
usually served with broth, popular in the region is
the pisarei e
faso, pasta e beans; freshtagliatelle
noodles are served with walnuts sauce or with a creamy sauce
made with diced prociutto and peas.
are prepared in many ways, coupled with vegetables and meats.
in tomato sauce is topped with a sauce of porcini mushrooms
Piacentina cheese. The polenta
is cooked with ciccioli,
little pieces of pork left after the extraction of lard from the meat.
Pork dishes are well-liked, young goat is stewed with vegetables and wine and garnished with minced parsley and
garlic. Hare and rabbits are prepared alla cacciatore.
is preserved in light sugary syrup, the chisola
is a small turnover stuffed with mustardaand
fried in lard. The river Trebbia crosses the province of Piacenza and from the Trebbiano grape growing along
the river is produced the homonymous wine.
Reggio Emilia is known for the Reggiano Parmigiano, the many gastronomic specialties and for the system
of Advanced Schools for
The system concerns the education of children and the teamwork necessary between parents and teachers; this system
was adopted by many American schools and called The Reggio Emilia
Reggio Emilia is rich of history, culture and culinary traditions.
The hinterland is one of the most prosperous agricultural provinces in Italy. The fertile soil and the abundance of
water makes it possible for the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, cereals and most importantly, herbaceous crops.
The big production of fodder is useful in the rearing of cows and pigs, to produce milk to make the Parmesan cheese
and meat for the pork products.
The produce and products originated in the region are skillfully combined and transformed in exquisite
dishes. Tortellini di
erbe with spinach, tortelloni con
zucca with pumpkins, cappelletti,
stuffed with meat are finished with butter sauce
or ragu’, are
part of a broad pasta menu’. The scarpazzone
is a pie eaten as a light snack or appetizer, made with
spinach or Swiss chard, ham, onions, garlic, parsley, and Parmesan cheese; this pie is made in nearby Parma
and it is called erbazzone.
Roasted pork, fresh sausages with vegetables, stuffed veal, braised or boiled beef and other meat dishes enrich the
The rivers, crossing the region furnish a variety of
fish to compliment a good, tasty and nutritious diet.
Large manufacturers of salami, hams, cotechino and other pork products are located in the area. Cheese factories
process the huge quantity of milk the area is enriched with, making the Parmigiano Reggiano and milk
The Balsamic vinegar
D.O.C. from Reggio
Emilia is an important asset to the economy of the
The bountiful chestnuts trees provide to the dessert makers many sweet possibilities. The scarpazzoneis made
in a sweet version with ricotta cream, candied orange and citron, raisins and nuts. Balsamic vinegar mixed in
chocolate, vanilla and honey is made into a sweet sauce used as a condiment for strawberries and other
wine is produced in abundance from the grapes cultivated in the
The province of Ferrara is located in an area with a mostly flat terrain, with fertile land rich
The water from the streams and canals that flow into the Po River is used to irrigate the productive soil and the
laborious inhabitants of the region have promoted good economical conditions and well-being, making the province of
Ferrara one of the most outstanding in Italy.
The town ofCopparo is the
headquarters of BERCO, an internationally known and large manufacturer of auto and truck parts, exported over the
Farms scattered in the hinterland produce the primary products for the meat and cheese industries. In fact, Ferrara
is one of the biggest producers of salami and other cured meats of Emilia-Romagna and large quantities
are manufactured here also. The towns ofBondeno and
sweet creamy butter, the best in Italy.
The back country is occupied by vineyards, orchards, grain fields and grasslands, advancing the agricultural and
food fortune of the land.
The Bosco Eliceo is a wooded area with elm trees, near the Adriatic coast, neighboring with the province
of Ravenna. In the vineyards amidst sandy dunes on the delta of the Po River, grapes grow plentiful and wines are
produced in the many wineries located in the area. The D.O.C wines of the Bosco
are Sauvignon, Merlot,
Fortana, and Bianco del
These wines are shipped outside the region and appreciated for their lightly salty and fragrant taste and are an
ideal combination with the local meat and fish dishes.
Vegetable gardens and fruit orchards cover wide areas. Some of the high quality produced fruits are sold for table
consumption, part is processed by the local factories into juices and preserves. The province of Ferrara is the
biggest fruits producer in Italy and Europe. Abbondanza, Imperatore,
Roma apples, Passagrana pears,
peaches, strawberries, cherries, apricots, and melons are grown, using modern equipment and old methods dating back
to Etruscan times.
The land obtained by draining the marshes in the Po’ Delta, exposed a rich soil ideal for crop growing:
zucca,thepumpkin and other vegetables are produced along with corn, wheat andsugar
beetsutilized to make sugar , mostly used in the fruit and juice industries.
The wheat produced in the Ferrarese is
ground very fine and utilized to make the ciupèta, the
famous and ancient Ferrara’s bread, still prepared with the old recipe. This delicious and crunchy bread made with
olive oil and lard, stays fresh for days.
lagoon, where the eels are fished, is connected with the Adriatic Sea by canals; the Adriatic coast is
flourishing with modern seaside resorts and small fishing villages. The local economy is based on fishing and
tourism and it is possible to sample fresh sea food and gastronomic specialties in the many restaurants in
The city of Ferrara is the capital of the province of Ferrara.
The magnificent Castello
Estense is a castle built in the center of the city; near by,
Estense,now the seat of the town hall and the Cathedral of San
Giorgio were built in Renaissance style.
The Palazzo dei
Diamanti, the house of the National Art Gallery, is one of the most famous buildings in Italy: the white
marble exterior consisting of 8500 blocks are carved in the shape of diamonds. Other churches and infrastructures
built in the 14th century are evidences of a glorious period of Ferrara’s history when the city was governed by the
Dukes of Este. The
University of Ferrara was founded in 1391 by Marquis Alberto
D’Este with courses in law, arts and theology. In the XVI
century, Ercole II D’Este engaged Sephardic Jews to traslate the Bible, called The Ferrara Bible, in Ladino, a
Romance dialect resulting from the combination of Hebrew, Spanish, Turkish languages with some Greek and Latin
The province of Ferrara has always been a theater of many significant events affecting the history of the Italian
peninsula. Artists, scientists, philosophers and Saints have left indelible records in the chronicles of the world
and masterpieces, institutions, and public works that benefit the community, are living monuments of this laborious
and hospitable people.
The cuisine of this region consists of an enormous amount of dishes that synthesize the Emilian cuisine and the
traditional cooking of the farmers, of the fishermen and the inhabitants along the Po River and of the Adriatic
Coast. The varieties and large amount of produce, meat, salt or freshwater fish and shellfish are used to prepare
antipasti, pasta, rice, meat and fish dishes rarely found in other regional menus. The desserts are not many, made
with simple and with a small number of ingredients, with little or no cream and usually made to last a few days.
is made with flour, eggs, butter and a little sugar: my
mother-in-law, Mrs. Occhiali, who was born in Copparo, made it often and called it brazadela.
The torta di
mele is a sponge cake mixed with fresh apples sliced very
thin. The Panpepato
is a super rich chocolate cake with candied fruits and nuts,
ginger, pepper and other spices. The mandurlin dal pont, mandorlini di
Ponte are delicate and crispy biscuits made with eggs, sugar
and almonds from Pontelagoscuro.
If you are a family’s guest, or you are lodging in one of the hotels or an inn, the food served is always
excellent. If you find accommodations in a farmhouse usually with room and board or if you eat in a restaurant or
trattoria, traditional fares are served and the food will be good, fresh and wholesome all the time. Be courageous
and try anything: everything is delectable!
Offered as hors d’oeuvre are oysters, clams, mussels, roasted eels, herrings, shrimps, tray of cured pork
specialties, the well-known salam da l’ai,
garlic salame, cheeses, stuffed mushrooms, fried polentaand finger
food to arouse and stimulate the appetite. Roasted eels are served and preserved in wine sauce, packed and shipped
everywhere. Also available in season is the local caviar made from the sturgeons feeding in the Po’s Delta. The
local fish men learned to harvest the sturgeons’ roe and make it into caviar from the Jewish population who were
gathering it since the time that they moved into the area in the VIII century when Ferrara started to expand and
before a large community of Jews established themselves in the region; Ercole I D’Este,
in the XV century facilitated their settlement when they were expelled from Spain and Portugal.
in brodo, small hat
stuffed with an assortment of minced meat (in the old way
sweetbreads were mixed in) and cooked in a broth of capon and beef. The beef and capon is served as main dish
sauce made with olive oil, the inside of bread drizzled with vinegar, minced garlic, a lot of parsley,
anchovies, capers and grounded grains of mustard.
The cappellacci con
zucca, pumpkin ravioli, are
served with ragu’ or butter and sage sauce; tagliatelle,
noodles with ragu or mushroom sauce, the maltagliati,
irregular cut eggs’ pasta is cooked with beans, classic
green lasagna, pasticcio
alla Ferrarese, a pie stuffed with maccheroni,
béchamel, cheese and ragu’ with porcini
mushrooms, are everyday pastas; the passatelli
in broth is a rustic dish made with breadcrumbs mixed with
eggs and cheese and grated into a pot with boiling broth; now thepassatelli
are made with flour, eggs, spinach, cheese, shredded and
prepared ahead. Rice is grown in the area and cooked as a risotto: some
of the delicious rice preparations are riso
con zucca e
salsiccia, with pumpkin and sausages, or with fish
seafood broth; rice is also prepared with eels, with ragu’, cheese and porcini
a mush made from cornmeal is served in place of pasta. It can be fried in butter or dressed with a sauce, cheese,
meat or fish. Anguilla
and polenta, polenta
with ragu’, polenta
and sausages are common fare in the Ferrarese.
The town of Copparo
is the birthplace of my wife Terry and most of her family. The
plain or refined dishes that the cuisine of this suburb of the city of Ferrara offers are the fusion of the local
farmers' plain cooking and the Dukes of Ferrara, the Este’s family, refined cooking. Copparo and the surrounding
area was a game preserve used by the Este’s family for hunting and for military training. The site of the city hall
of Copparo is part of a hunting lodge built by the Estes’ family and used also to entertain and to spend the
The dishes that I sampled in my visits to Copparo or cooked by Terry or my mother-in-law Danila,
verde, pasticcio di
maccheroni, fresh pasta with ragu’,bechamel
and mushrooms sauce, risotto con
zucca, rice and pumpkin, gnocchi,
delicious dumplings, salama da
pork tenderloin cooked in wine and thyme, roasted pheasants stuffed with porcini
mushrooms and wrapped in pancetta. As typical of the region bolliti
misti, boiled meats, stracotto, braised beef with vegetables and broth. Roasted, braised beef, pork and
made with pork rind and pork meat, served with lentils,
polenta with sausages in tomato sauce, chickens cooked with bay leaves, tomato and chili pepper. Side dishes
like potatoes cooked in the oven with butter and milk, asparagus with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, spinach
with butter and parmesan cheese, baked mixed vegetables, eggplants and zucchini in balsamic vinaigrette,
baked pumpkin served with oil and salt.
Zucca baked with sugar and cinnamon is a sweet snack.
In Copparo, hares, rabbits and other game are abundant, the one time ordinary horse meat, is now considered a
delicacy; salt and fresh water fish arrive from the local rivers and from the Adriatic Sea, about 25 miles
Shrimps, sole, eels, calamari,
scallops, other shellfish, turbot, and a variety of catch are combined, grilled and served with ciupete
bread and wine from the Bosco
Steamed mussels and fresh oysters are great and simple appetizers, calamari
stuffed with rice, cheese, chopped fish and herbs are cooked in a
light sauce made with tomato paste, seppie con
piselli is a delicate dish of cuttlefish
with peas; eels with tomato, onion and garlic sauce, or grilled or
cooked in wine sauce are specialties cooked at home and easy to find in restaurants, trattorie and wine bars.
Among the sweet offering of Copparo are the popular almond biscuits, the brazadela, similar
to the plain Ciambellone Ferrerese and also torte, cakes filled with marmalade or with light custard and drizzled
with liquors. Fresh fruits cut bite size and drizzled with a mixture of syrup and wine or liquor are part of the
Copparo traditional desserts.