The Food Valley is considered the green extended territory between the west rice and pastures farmlands of Piedmont and Lombardy and the Po river delta fans. The latter, the major river in Italy, contributed to the creation of this vast plain by its gentle waters. The Food Valley then, can be approximately located between the alps peaks and the green slopes of the Apennines; mainly covering the Emilia Romagna region.
The fertility of the land and of the soil, merged with ancient traditions and entrepreneurial spirits of the inhabitants have given birth to an incredible variety of food products.
In the province of Parma and nearby Reggio Emilia and Modena, it is possible to find many of the best Italian local salumi, Parmigiano Reggiano, pastas, vegetable preserves, balsamic vinegar and wine.
As a matter of fact, Parma has always been considered the capital as well as the heart of the food valley area, with its culinary specialties and cuisine which are well known throughout the entire world.
The historical town affection for the food sector can be demonstrated by the high mechanical and industrialized food industry than has born during the centuries, as an evidence in the late 1977, a small bread store opened with the name of Barilla, that would eventually become the world’s leading industrial pasta producer and Europe’s leading baked-goods producer.
Likewise, in the 20th century Parma became home to the Experimental Station of Food Conservation, together with the creation of many Consortium to protect local products such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma and Culatello di Zibello. Moreover, Parma is home to the International Cibus fair that every year attracts a great number of visitors.
As a further demonstration of Parma’s fame as food capital, the city is the home to the headquarters of the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority).
Parma has always been a cultural capital with strong aristocratic traditions, important monuments and prized works of art. Verdi, Correggio, Parmigianino, Benedetto Antelami are just few of the many artists and virtuosos who share they root there. Parma province has a fascinating history, surrounded by castles (e.g. Torrechiara Castle, Colorno Castle and Soragna fortress) but besides its high cultural heritage the city and its surrounding provide one of the most tasty and famous food, not only in Italy but all over the world.
First of all, we have the Parmigiano Reggiano, aka “the king of cheese” which splits the throne as food town symbol with its “competitor” Prosciutto di Parma. Both products have a long tradition and origins which can be traced back to the past centuries.
“A great cheese for at least nine centuries”. The Parmigiano Reggiano cheese way of producing is still identical to how it was eight centuries ago, maintaining the same expert ritual gestures, the same places and therefore the same fragrance and characteristic taste.
Cheese masters, like in the past, persist in the effort by proudly making their cheese with only milk, rennet, fire and art, and thus abiding by the strict and rigorous methods and techniques resulted from matured experience from the last centuries.
The cheese origins can be traced back to the Middle Ages, around the XII century, by Benedictine monk and Cistercian.
Prosciutto di Parma:
Prosciutto di Parma has a millennial history that was influenced by the high presence of saline springs in the territory, with abundant minerals like sodium, sulfur and nitrite, of which the peasantry started to exploit to preserve meat and game.
At the time of the Romans, authors such as Polibio, Strabone, Orazio, Plauto, Giovenale and Varrone used to write about local inhabitants that raised large herds of pigs and very skilled farmers in curing ham. Notwithstanding, the production of encased salumi (insaccati), was only officially recognized at the end of the Middle Ages with the creation and formation of the Arte dei Lardaroli, salumi-makers guild.
Parma is a land that provides unique, inimitable raw materials which are eventually molded by centuries-old traditions. Parma can be defined as a treasure trove of Italian cuisine, which has the highest number of recognized typical products vis-à-vis all the other Italian provinces.