Taste your way around Emilia-Romagna with these regional classics
PASTA IN BROTH
Brodo, or clear broth – typically made by slow-simmering beef or veal for four hours or more – pretty much identifies a pasta dish as being from Emilia-Romagna.
Cappelletti (“little hats”) in brodo can be found in restaurants throughout the region, but Parma’s version is anolini in brodo, made with a local pasta resembling circular ravioli. These are stuffed with a meat sauce made from tomatoes, onion, celery, carrots, wine, breadcrumbs, grated parmesan and nutmeg.
Prosciutto di Parma is unique to Emilia-Romagna and has protected designation of origin (PDO) status. The name prosciutto is generic, referring to the hind leg or thigh of a pig, wild boar or even lamb. What makes Parma ham special is that it is made from pork cured only with sea salt (others may contain nitrites and colourings) then wind-dried for 12 months to three years. The prized part is culatello – the top of the leg, aged for at least two years and deep red. Eat it thinly sliced with pasta fritti – pasta dipped in a yeast batter, so it bubbles, then deep-fried.
Spaghetti bolognese is a staple in Britain, but you would never find it in Italy. The rich meat and tomato sauce, or ragù, of Bologna is served with medium-cut tagliatelle ribbons, which hold a thick sauce better than spaghetti or spaghettini do.
Also known as la coppia ferrarese, this sourdough bread from the city of Ferrara (where Lucrezia Borgia lived and died) is the weirdest food you will see in Emilia-Romagna. It resembles four plaited “horns” of dough, tied in the middle, the idea being that you eat the tips first, gradually proceeding to the softer centre that will keep for another day. La ciupeta also has protected regional status.