Emilia Romagna - Food and Wines - Food
Emilia-Romagna is considered a single region from a political and administrative point of view, but in reality it is two separate regions, each with its own character, history, and traditions. Emilia includes the provinces of Bologna, Modena, Reggio Emilia, Parma and Piacenza, whereas Romagna lies alongside the Adriatic sea and is comprised of Ferrara, Ravenna and Forli`. Emilians are generally happy and looking for good times, the Romagnoli tend to be hot-tempered and decisive. This difference in character is even reflected in their cooking: an Emilian cook would never disturb his dish with a strong flavour, while the Romagnolo often exceeds in adding flavours.
Everything in Emilia is fat. The fertile land is fat, and its dows are fat, as well as its pigs, the vats that hold the sea of wine produced every year, and the bellies of the diners that love to tell anecdotes during their lavish meals. The strength of the wine contributes to the gay atmosphere.
Emilia is the home of salamis, and Parma is their home. Parma has a saying: "The pig is like Verdi's music, there's nothing to throw away." (Somewhat reminiscent of the Chicago meat packers who claim to use everything of the pig but its squeal.) The cured ham of Parma, "prosciutto," becomes sweeter than ham from any other region in Italy. Some say it's because of the air, and the breeze which provides the ideal ventilation for the curing. Others say that the credit goes to the masters who cure the hams, hanging them outside when the weather is mild, during the 18 to 20 months necessary.
"Culatello" is another specialty of the area, which has a very special quality, considered by some even finer than "prosciutto." Modena favours the "zampone" (big paws) which is salami stuffed inside a pig's foot, and cooked over a very low fire. It is served with mashed potatoes or black lentils. It is traditio- nally eaten on New Year's day.
If Parma can boast of its hams and "parmigiano" (Parmesan cheese) Bologna uses the "tortellino" as its trademark, and fights to maintain the purity of the recipe. The pasta must be made from flour and eggs with nothing else added, spread out by hand and thinned with a wooden "mattarello." The stuffing must contain Parmesan cheese, lonza of pork, mortadella from Bologna, raw ham, turkey breast and egg. Parma boasts of its "anolini" and "tortelli di erbette", Piacenza adds bread crumbs, and Romagna loves its "cappelletti."
Romagnolo cooking, in contrast with Emilian, loves aromatic herbs and uses the spit. Fish, fruits of the sea and chicken are roasted, as well as game, other meats, and different kinds of sausages. An energetic bicycle ride or a brisk ride on one of the impetuous horses of Romagna whets the appetite.
Ragu' alla Bolognese
150 grams of ground veal150 grams of ground beef100 grams bacon60 grams butter1 onion, 1 carot, 1 celery stalk1/4 cup of red winetomato sauce1/2 cup brothmilksalt and pepper
Chop in fine pieces the onion, carrot, celery and bacon. Place everything in a saucepan, add the meats and mix well. Add the butter and cook over a slow fi- re, then add the wine and 1/4 cup broth. When the broth is absorbed add ano- ther 1/4 cup broth and let it evaporate. Add a bit of tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Cover the meat with a bit of boiling milk and continue cooking until it has been absorbed. This sauce can be used on all types of pasta.