The region of Emilia-Romagna contains some of the greatest treasures of Italian cuisine with well know cities like Parma, Modena, and Bologna lending their names to products like Prosciutto Di Parma, Parmesan Reggiano, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena, and Ragu Bolognese to name a few. To many people the city of Bologna is considered the gastronomic capital of Italy. The city is known as Bologna La Grassa or Bologna the Fat. I think that after my course I may be known as Joe the Fat, I feel my borders expanding. The city is famous for it’ s Mortadella , the often huge yet delicate and wonderful cured meat invented by the Romans about 2000 years ago, and resembling nothing like it’s bastard child in the US bologna. The city is also well known for several pasta dishes Tagliatelle Bolognese, Lasagna, and Tortellini in Brodo, but Bologna is not the only city in Emilia-Romagna known for its pasta, fresh pasta is the common denominator for the region. Parma and Agnolotti, Reggio Emilia – Cappelletti, Modena –Tortellini (along with Bologna), Ferrara-Tortelli di Zucca (pumpkin), and Piacenza-Pisarei .
The pasta of Emilia Romagna is rich egg pasta that is typically quite yellow from the abundance of egg yolks used in the dough. Regardless of the individual variations in the region the sfoglia produced is rich, fine and subtle perfect for making any of the famous pasta dishes of the region like lasagna, tortellini, cappaletti, cappalucci, cannelloni, tortelli, anglotti,and garganelli. It is quite amazing to see someone roll out a ball of pasta to the size of a bed sheet, and use the matterello (long rolling pin) to hold it up high like a curtain so you can see through it, all in a matter of 2 minutes.
The region currently has over 20 products that are either DOP (registered designation of origin), or IGP (registered geographic designation of origin) the highest in Italy. There are several reasons that this region is so capable of producing such high quality products born from its land. The geography of the region creates several micro-climates which creates the conditions that are required for man and nature to work their magic. The Po River runs through the region depositing rich sediment in the valley, providing water to the region, and producing humidity which is essential for curing the great meats of the region. The Po River bed, The Apennine Mountains, and the sea are the magical combination. The region not only produces great cheeses, meats, and pastas, fruits and vegetables such as grapes, peaches, plums, cherries, apricots, tomatoes, and wheat.
Obviously meat is important and pork, veal, beef, horse, rabbit, and lamb are common. One doesn’t usually think of seafood and the Emilia-Romagna, but on the Romagna side(eastern part) the region reaches to the Adriatic and fish is more often found.
Lambrusco is produced in great quantities. Lambrusco is not held in high esteem as many Italian wins, but there is a history and reason for consuming this wine in the region. The effervescence and fruitiness of the wine helps to cut the fattiness and rich of the cuisine of this region, it is a perfect match!
Just imagine trying to cook without Parmesan Reggiano, thank goodness for the Emilia-Romagna.
We had a great time making a variety of fresh pastas. We all had sore shoulders from kneading dough – it was awesome!!We made Punta di Vitello al Forno, Lasagne alla Bolognese, Agnolotti, Cappelletti all Reggiana, Tortellini Modenesi, Tortelli di Zucca, Stricchetti with Herbs and Tomatoes, Tortelli D’ Erbetta, Pisarei e Faso, Gnocco Fritto, Piadina Romangnola, Farfalle, Cured Meat Platters