Parma Food & Wine
This description page of Parma in the Italian Region of Emilia Romagna, will guide you in planning your trip to Italy and help you to find useful travel information about the Food & Wine of this Italian city.
When discussing about Parma and cuisine, where does one could start? Parma has great traditions of good food behind it. And the cuisine, with its typical products and characteristic dishes is one of its main attractions for visitors.
the parmigiano reggiano cheese
No cheese is as famous, or as vital to Italian cuisine, as Parmigiano Reggiano. One of the word's great cheeses name, the Parmigiano-Reggiano, is stamped all around its circumference to set it apart from lesser quality cheeses or imitations.
There are two types of cheese: the superior Parmigiano-Reggiano and the lower quality Grana. 2,700,000 tons of Parmigiano-Reggiano are sold every year and are produced in 650 small factories. Each produces no more than five or six tubs, or "forms" of cheese every day, and this is said to be the secret to its quality.
The cheese is made using techniques that have barely altered in centuries. Made from the milk of local cows fed on the Po Valley's green pasture land, two different "milkings" are used. The evening milk rests overnight and is skimmed of its cream before being mixed with the following mor's new milk.
This mixture is then poured into a copper, funnel-shaped boiler and heated gently over an open fire before rennet is added to begin the curdling. The mixture firms and is broken with a giant metal whisk to start the separation of curds from the whey. Next comes the molding, pressing, and draining in a form about the size of a large hatbox. After being soaked in a salt brine solution for nearly a month, each cheese is drained a little more before being stacked in cellar to wait patiently for time and nature to transform it into a wonderfully flavorful, grainy-texture cheese. The maturing period can be at least one year, but two is not uncommon.
Before arriving at market the cheese is inspected using a small hammer which knocks the round. The vibrations reveal whether the inner cheese is good. Only then can the famous trademark be applied.
Parmigiano is not only famous as a grating cheese, particularly for pastas, but is also highly appreciated as a table cheese, or with pears, an Italian specialty.
the prosciutto di parma
Prosciutto di Parma production is even more strictly regulated than the one of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Parma ham owes its excellence to techniques perfected over many years and to the special conditions in which it is cured. The little pigs of Parma, and its surrounding area, know something about Parmigiano-Reggiano; they grow up drinking the whey that is drained away from the curds in the cheese-making process. The production area of Prosciutto di Parma is located in the southern part of the Parma province. From the breeding and feeding of the pigs, to the careful selection of legs, the gentle salt rubs and rinsings, and the long hanging and curing in progressively warmer aging rooms, each step in the process must meet certain criteria in order to merit the appellation Prosciutto di Parma. Following the traditional method, Prosciutto di Parma is still produced like it was about 2000 years ago.
The breezy hills of Langhirano, south of Parma, are ideal for curing the hams, which are aged for up to ten months. Here, and only here, can genuine Prosciutto di Parma is produced. You'll know you're in Parma ham country when you spot the very long, narrow windows (shuttered or open), which are designed to ventilate the aging ham.
At the end of the 10- to 12-month processing and aging period, the five-pointed crown of the old Duchy of Parma is branded into each leg that makes the grade, to distinguish it from other cured hams. The result is a raw ham, pale pink in color with a distinctive flavor and a remarkably silky texture.
The Colli di Parma DOC zone occupies hillsides south of Parma, and the Parma locals prefer Malvasia, an elegant white wine, with their world-renowned ham. You can sample it dry (secco) or semi-sweet (amabile). The dry wine can be still, fizzy, or sparkling, while the sweet style is only fizzy or sparking.
Try Colli di Parma Sauvignon, a dry white made entirely from Sauvignon Blanc, in still, frizzante, or sparking varieties. Or sample Colli di Parma Rosso, a dry red wine main mainly from Barbera grapes.