For a city and re­gion with its her­itage so firmly rooted in tra­di­tion, the sense of cre­ativ­ity is star­tling. The city’s res­i­dents are em­brac­ing change, re­al­is­ing that to pro­tect their iden­tity they must con­tinue to evolve and open up their unique prod­ucts to the world. Chef Anna Maria Bar­bieri, who has been cook­ing for more than 50 years, demon­strated this spirit when she pre­pared a five-course meal for us us­ing fresh, lo­cal in­gre­di­ents.

Parmi­giano Reg­giano is used in each dish, but in un­ex­pected ways: for ex­am­ple as a crisp cheese bas­ket filled with tortellini; in hand­made crack­ers; in a mille feuille of veg­eta­bles and in a re­fresh­ing gelato. Chef Anna Maria learned to cook from her mother and now is the head chef in the restau­rant owned and op­er­ated by her son. This taste ex­pe­ri­ence is not sin­gu­lar. The food at Ris­torante inkiostro, Miche­lin-starred and headed by Chef Terry gi­a­comello, is ex­per­i­men­tal and creative while still al­low­ing the qual­ity of lo­cally sourced pro­duce to take cen­tre stage. His egg white tagli­olino, with Parmi­giano Reg­giano sauce and caviar, is a culi­nary high­light.

The mod­ernist move­ment is per­fectly bal­anced by the perseverance of eater­ies such as Parma Rotta, where Chef An­to­nio di vita prides him­self on us­ing lo­cal in­gre­di­ents that up­hold tra­di­tion. He started work­ing in the kitchen at 13, and is now as­sisted by his two daugh­ters, who of­fer the res­i­dents of Parma food just the way his grand­mother cooked it.

These sto­ries of fam­ily, ar­ti­san food and her­itage are im­mense, and the sense of pride and re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­mot­ing Parma and it’s culi­nary de­lights are hum­bling.

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