How They Make Parma Ham in Emilia Romagna

How They Make Parma Ham in Emilia Romagna

When I started traveling to Italy, I always wondered how they actually make Parma Ham. When I walked around any small town in Italy I always saw large legs of ham hanging from the ceiling. More often than not, they were stamped with a crown shaped marking that bears a single word: “Parma.” But, how did they get there? What is Prosciutto di Parma Prosciutto di Parma, or more generally, Parma ham, has been around since Roman times. There are stories from 100 BC referencing the unique flavor of the air-dried pork from the area surrounding Parma. At the time, pork was dried to extend its life and prevent it from spoiling. A group of Parma ham producers created a Consortium, Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma, in the 1970s, to control the quality of prosciutto. In 1996, the European Union gave the DOP designation on Prosciutto di Parma. Like all DOP and IGP products, the Consortium regulates the types of pigs that can be used, what the pigs are fed, and how the ham itself is produced. What Are The Ingredients in Parma Ham The Consortium likes to say there are only four ingredients in Parma ham: Italian pigs, salt, air, and time. In reality it’s really only two ingredients, although air and time are also key components. Parma ham is made by curing a leg of pork with nothing but sea salt. This increases the tenderness of the meat, and gives it a characteristic sweet flavor. The production process is overseen by a maestro salatore, or salt master, which has to be the coolest sounding title for a...
Unique Foods to Eat in Emilia Romagna

Unique Foods to Eat in Emilia Romagna

For many Americans who dream of traveling to Italy, images come to mind of Napoli style pizza, or large platters of pasta slathered in red tomato sauce. This is very common in the cuisine in the south of Italy, areas that include Sicily, Puglia, and of course, Naples. But, the food of the north is entirely unique. Emilia Romagna includes the cities of Bologna, Parma, and Modena. It is host to an entirely different style of Italian cuisine. The question is: what to eat in Emilia Romagna? Because there are some truly unique dishes to try! The Unique Pasta You Must Eat in Emilia Romagna Some of the more common pasta dishes you will eat in Emilia Romagna include tortellini, tagliatelle, and gnocchi. But, there is a pasta called passatelli, which is particular to Emilia Romagna. It’s virtually unheard of outside of Italy. A traditional pasta that is thicker than many others, it tastes a lot more dense. Passatelli is made with Parmigiano Reggiano, bread crumbs, egg, flour, and sometimes nutmeg. It’s most common to find passatelli served in a broth, which is the traditional preparation. However, passatelli is also served “dry,” without a broth, often mixed with fresh vegetables or meats. It is getting increasingly more difficult to find on menus in Emilia Romagna because it is so expensive to make. All of that Parmigiano Reggiano adds up. If you only eat one pasta in Emilia Romagna (although why would you want to do that?) passatelli is the one to try! The “Meat Breads” You Must Eat in Emilia Romagna Almost every restaurant, trattoria, or osteria in Emilia Romagna offers a...
How To Rent an Apartment in Florence

How To Rent an Apartment in Florence

We are big proponents of renting an apartment when we travel. Sure, when only staying in a city for a few nights, it’s often easier to just check into an hotel. But, when we are staying a bit longer, we prefer to rent an apartment. It gives us more space, and makes us feel a little better about getting to know a city. Because we haven’t been to Florence in about a decade, we knew we would be reorienting ourselves in the city. It was the perfect place to test out how to rent an apartment in Florence. But, before booking any holiday rental, it’s important to take a few things into consideration. Here’s are our tips. Ensure The Apartment Has The Right Amenities Obviously, for us, being digital nomads means WIFI comes first! After that, we look for apartments that meet our needs, including a washing machine, and a full kitchen. We also like having a bedroom that is separate from the living room. This means we can separate our work lives a little more from our personal space. When staying in a hotel, we are often working from bed. That can be fun, but at times I want more space. When traveling on a holiday, people often have differing needs. Something to consider when renting an apartment in Florence is accessibility. We were on the top floor of our building, and needed to carry our luggage up the stairs. Most old buildings in an old city like Florence don’t have elevators. If you carry large bags, or are traveling with someone of limited mobility, it’s best to request...
The Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna

The Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna

It’s finally here! After hinting for the last several months, and after a full year of hard work, my first culinary travel guide is here! Introducing The Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna: How to taste the history and tradition of Italy . . It’s no secret that Eric and I love Italy, and about three years ago, we discovered Emilia Romagna. Since that time, we have made five visits to the region, that encompasses Bologna, Modena, Parma, and more. Why do we love this region so much? Emilia Romagna is home to some of the best food, and food products, in the world. It is home to Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, traditional balsamic vinegar, and more. It is the home to Slow Food and Fast Cars. It is home to amazing wines, including world famous Lambrusco, and some Italy’s secret wines, including Negretto and Albana. It almost kills me when people tell me they are traveling to Italy and limiting their trip to Rome or Venice. There is so much more to see of the country than the primary tourist spots. I do understand the draw to those cities. I understand wanting to see the Coliseum, or the Bridge of Signs. But, after Rome and Venice, where should you travel to in order to experience the REAL Italy? Where should you travel to in order to eat the best food in Italy? The obvious answer is: Emilia Romagna! And, my new The Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna can help you plan the perfect trip through the breadbasket of Italy. In a full 250 pages of culinary...
Mortadella – Seeing How the Sausage is Made

Mortadella – Seeing How the Sausage is Made

There is a saying that goes, “No one wants to see how the sausage is made”. When it comes to mortadella, though, I’ve been desperate to find out how it is made, and the story behind it. Mortadella – That’s Baloney Like many kids who grew up in the States, I grew up on bologna sandwiches. I could spot that round plastic container, with the yellow backing, from a mile away. I still remember the sound it made, when that plastic backing was ripped off. The smell of the bologna when it sizzled in a frying pan is another thing I remember. Yes, my grandmother often made me fried bologna sandwiches, served on white Wonder Bread, with ketchup of course. An all American bologna lunch was served. As I got older I started to despise bologna, and most of the other lunch meats my mother served me. Liverwurst. Olive loaf. That fake turkey meat. Processed ham. It got to the point where I despised it all. I grew into an adult with a little bit of processed meat PTSD from my overly bologna saturated childhood. As I started to eat Italian cured meats, it took me some time to develop a taste. To me, prosciutto was raw, pancetta fatty, and mortadella, was, well, baloney. It was round and pink, and to me “processed.” But, oh was I mistaken. History of Mortadella in America I am not sure how the mortadella that was eaten by Italian American immigrants turned into American bologna. Obviously there is the connection that mortadella was from Bologna, so I understand the name. But, I cannot understand...
Aperol Spritz – The Italian Aperitivo

Aperol Spritz – The Italian Aperitivo

There are two things I love about traveling Italy: the Aperol Spritz and aperitivo. It All Started With Campari I started drinking Aperol before I knew what Aperol was. The path to Aperol started with it’s grandfather, Campari. During one of our early trips to Rome, we thought we would try a Campari cocktail. I had no idea what was in a Campari Cocktail, but as we sat at a cafe on the edge of the Campo di Fiori in Rome, I thought it seemed appropriate. I felt like Audrey Hepburn with my bright red Italian cocktail. I didn’t like it one bit. Despite it’s deceptively bright red color, it is hardly sweet. It packs a bitter punch, even when matched with mixers. I think the version we ordered in Rome was merely Campari and soda water, maybe with a little Prosecco. But, there was not enough sweetness to offset the bitterness. It made us stay away from Campari, and anything in that family, for a really long time. What is Aperol? Aperol bears some similarities to it’s partner in crime Campari. The biggest difference is the color. It’s bright orange, and brilliant looking. Our friend in Slovenia introduced us to Aperol, and Aperol Spritz, during a day trip to Piran, Slovenia a few years ago. It was a warm fall day on the Adriatic coast. Irena ordered an Aperol Spritz and when it arrived, I just found it gorgeous. Aperol is an Italian aperitif made of bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb, and cinchona among other ingredients. No, I did not know all of these ingredients when I typed them....
Our New Food Traveler's Guide to Emilia Romagna is available on Amazon now!