It is a flat, round pie consisting of a covering of thin, crispy dough covered with powdered sugar containing a moist stuffing, similar to English mincemeat, with a pronounced spicy flavour. The traditional recipe, which involves a production cycle of 3 days, has been documented since the fourteenth century. The ingredients are: toasted bread, amaretto(macaroons), nuts, honey, sugar, pine nuts, raisins, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, orange zest, white wine. The name refers to the “spongia” (sponge) because of the solidity of the filling, as well as for the pitted surface of the pie crust covered with powdered sugar obtained from a particular method of sugar processing.

It is a hard cheese considered the most representative of Northern Italy whose origins date back to the Middle Ages. Parmigiano Reggiano is a real concentration of nutrients because a kilo of cheese is obtained from 16 litres of the protein rich milk of the typical area, exceptional also for the high content of vitamins, calcium and phosphorus. The name indicates its close relationship with the surrounding areas: the cities of Parma and Reggio Emilia. The minimum ageing of Parmigiano Reggiano is 12 months and may continue for 24 months or more, the highest amongst cheeses. There are 3 ages of reference for the consumer: more than 18 months 22 months and 30 months.

The Fortana wine is certainly the oldest and most traditional amongst the wines of the plains. Moderately alcoholic, fresh, crisp, fruity, slightly sweet and easy to match with cured meats and cheeses. Unfortunately, the production of this typical wine of Parma is limited and insufficient to meet demand: this makes it even more rare and valuable. For some authorities, use of the name “Fortana” could come from the “strength” and vigour of the vine as well as from its natural inclination to prefer strong, clayey soil.
Fortana wine is, unquestionably, the oldest and most traditional among the wines of the Po valley plain; a wine that has all the requirements to meet the tastes of the modern consumer. Moderately alcoholic, fresh and sparkling, with characteristic fruitiness, slightly sweet, a happy marriage with seasoned deli meats and cheese.

Stuffed pasta is typical of the Emilia Romagna Region, but in the area of Parma the most famous are the tortelli which can be stuffed with with ricotta and Swiss chard, pumpkin or potatoes. They are dressed with melted butter and parmesan cheese, hence the famous Parmesan saying “foghè in t’al butér, sughè in t’al formài” (drowned in butter and dried in cheese).

Top photo: “Torta fritta and salumi” (c) 2014 WordRidden – some rights reserved.

This is a typical Emilian dish that takes on various names depending on the area: chisulin, fried dumplings, crescentina … It is a savoury speciality, a dough made of flour, water and salt, cut into squares or rectangles that are fried in hot oil or lard. In the area of Parma, from where we have the version called “torta fritta”, it can be an appetizer, a first course or a main course. This fried bread is delicious with the cured meats or ‘salumi’ of the Parma area, especially with the famous Culatello di Zibello, Parma ham, Spalla Cotta of San Secondo (served hot), Salame di Felino, Coppa, Culaccia, Fiocchetto, etc …, and it is also very good with gorgonzola cheese.

This cake is a speciality that was cooked in Busseto at the arrival from Milan of Giuseppe Verdi with his friend Giuseppina Strepponi. This is a cake made of puff pastry filled with nougat, almonds, mint candy, cedar and amaretto, mixed with zabaglione, which is a bit like egg nog.

It is a type of small salami which has undergone a brief ageing period. It is made with meat obtained from the trimming of the ‘ Culatello’ which is definitely the best part of the pig given its valuable provenance. Sliced thinly, it is delicate and sweet and delights the palate of the few people in the know who have the chance to enjoy it because of the small quantity produced.

This ancient cured meat (documents of 1170 talk about it) is obtained from the front shoulders of pork, raw-boned and steeped in aromas and herbs for 15 days. It is then tied, strictly by hand, assuming the appearance of a large sphere, which will then be aged for 25/30 days, and finally baked at a low temperature in water with red wine and vegetables for several hours. This process gives the Spalla Cotta called after “San Secondo”, the market town from which it takes its name, a particularly delicate aroma and flavour, especially if served hot. Great as an appetizer or together with other salami, matched with hot homemade bread or with the famous “torta fritta”.

The Culatello is a high quality cured meat designated with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), which is produced in the Province of Parma, mainly in the area near the village of Zibello and its surroundings. It is produced from pigs born, raised and butchered in the regions of Lombardy and Emilia Romagna. To make the “King of Salumi,” as it is called, only the muscular part of the hind legs of the pig is used without either rind or bone. The meat obtained is then salted and cured along the embankment areas of the river Po in the Parma Lowlands. During foggy days the windows of the ageing cellars are open to let in the moisture necessary for curing and to impart the flavour and aromas typical of this delicious cured meat product.

Hand-rolled pasta stuffed with aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, bread crumbs scalded with boiling broth, eggs, salt and grated nutmeg. Their flavour is enhanced if they are cooked and served in a special broth, called “the third” that is made with 3 different types of meat (beef, capon, pork). They are crescent-shaped or round, but as often happens in the modern manufacture of products from a famous and very ancient tradition, there is a lot of controversy about the true shape of the anolini of Parma, as well as about the ingredients in the filling and over the type of broth that must be used for the cooking. Anolini differ from Cappelletti as their filling does not contain meat.