A comprehensive guide to some of Italy’s best, freshest and most authentic food found in the Northern region Emilia Romagna.
DOP & IGP food in Emilia Romagna
So, why is the food of Emilia Romagna so good? Well, it’s to do with the region’s abundance of DOP and IGP products.
DOP stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta, or in English Protected Designation of Origin (POD) and IGP means Indicazione Geografica Protetta or Protected Geographical Indication (PGI).
Food products have to meet a set of guidelines to qualify for either DOP or IGP recognition. In DOP products this is very strict and every step of creation, from production to packaging, is regulated and to qualify each step has to take place in a specific geographical region adhering to local traditions. IGP is less strict and products only have to qualify in one stage of production linking it to a specific region. Both DOP and IGP products are extremely important in maintaining Italy’s rich culinary history and although these products tend to cost more it’s worth it for the authentic taste and high quality of the products.
Emilia Romagna has the more IGP and DOP products than any other region worldwide making it so famous for tasty Italian food. These include:
– Piadina Romagnola IGP (Piadini Bread)
– Parmigiano Reggiano DOP (Parmesan Cheese)
– Prosciutto di Parma DOP (Parma Ham)
– Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia DOP (Balsamic Vinegar)
When in Emilia Romagna looked out for the DOP/IGP labelling on products in shops, as well as on menus, and give them a try.
Must try signature dishes in Emilia Romagna
Emilia Romagna is also known for a number of dishes and food that aren’t quite DOP/IGP but are synonymous with the region and are just as tasty!
Cappelletti is a pasta stuffed with minced meat (usually a mix of beef and pork) and/or Parmigiano Reggiano and folded to resemble little hats. These tasty little parcels are served with all kinds of sauces and even broths.
Strozzapreti is another of Emilia Romagna’s signature pastas. This pasta is short tubular pieces, around 2 inches long, which are rolled across their width. You’ll find Strozzapreti served in restaurants all over the region usually paired with a tomato based sauce or ragu.
Stuffed Piadinis are Emilia Romagna’s delicious answer to a sandwich. Their delicious Piadini is a thin flat bread that is light and fluffy and often served savoury filled with meat, cheese and salad leaves. It’s a great on-the-go snack to grab and eat while strolling through an Italian town.
Foodie experiences in Emilia Romagna
Cervia is a small town on the Adriatic Coast of Emilia Romagna and is known as the City of Salt or the City of White Gold due to its ancient production of salt. The salt of Cervia is well known as it has a unique sweet taste due to the absence of bitter salts which are eliminated in the natural drying process.
In 1959 salt production turned industrial, leaving just one of the 144 ancient saltpans in operation. This existing pan is known as Camillone Saltpan and is part of the Salt Museum (Museo Del Sale Di Cervia). Every summer you can visit the Camillone Saltpan to see the traditional method of salt production in action or simply visit the Salt Museum all year round to learn more and sample the famous salt.
– Free guided tours of the Camillone Saltpan: Thursdays and Sundays between 15 June to 15 September meeting at the Visitor’s Centre Carpark at 4.30pm.
– ‘Salt Worker For A Day’ experience: Tuesdays between June 15 and August 30 at 4.30pm.
Comacchio is famous for marinated eel. La Manifattura Dei Marinati is the old pickling factory keeping tradition alive in the town; in fact it’s still in use between October to December roasting eels in the fire room to prepare them for pickling. As well as seeing the pickling production in autumn you can learn about the process all year round, taste the eels and buy the pickled products at La Manifattura Dei Marinati.
Emilia Romagna really is a food lover’s paradise with so many foods to taste and food-based experiences to be had!