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.