Whilst recently visiting the Mutti headquarters which are situated on the outskirts of Parma city centre, there was a free day in the schedule which meant it was the perfect time to discover some iconic food items from the local area. Parma, Italy, is a culinary haven renowned for its diverse range of traditional dishes and flavours. As a huge lover of Italian cuisine and history, this was a fantastic foodie experience and a must do when visiting the Italian food valley.
Here are some of the delicious dishes I tried:
Carciofa is a stuffed bread with artichoke, mortadella, spinach and ricotta. Similar to a quiche consistency but cut through with the softness of bread rather than pastry. Carciofa is an Italian street food that is eaten on the go and can have a number of different fillings but usually with artichoke as the hero ingredient.
Duchessa di Parma
A delectable pastry that is a traditional sweet treat, often found in local bakeries and cafes. The cake is formed by discs of hazelnut paste, dark chocolate ganache, eggnog with Marsala, chopped hazelnuts and candied cherries – definitely one for a sweet tooth! This dessert is a dedication to the much-loved Duchess Maria Luigia of Parma, which is said to have been created for her by a pastry chef in the mid-1800s.
Parma ham is one of the most famous Italian cured meats. This exquisite ham is meticulously prepared and aged for at least 12 months, resulting in a tender, flavourful, and slightly sweet meat. It is a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) food which means it’s entirely produced in a certain place that gives it unique properties. In this case, the clue is in the name: Parma. More specifically, in the hills surrounding the town of Parma in the Emilia Romagna region of Northern Italy. A must have when visiting the area; make sure to try the different aged meats to taste the variety of flavours and sweetness.
Balsamic vinegar is a culinary gem from Modena, a neighbouring region of Parma. It’s often used as a dressing for salads, a marinade for meats, or even drizzled over Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. This condiment also has PDO and must be aged for at least 12 years, using no other ingredients than grapes to receive the status. We tried a 25-year aged sample, which was rich, sweet, and complex in flavour – you only need a drop! The 25-year aged balsamic vinegar is usually savoured for special occasions in Italian culture.
Parmigiano Reggiano, the “King of cheeses”, is a hallmark of Italian gastronomy. This hard, granular cheese is meticulously crafted and aged for either 24 or 36 months. The extended ageing imparts a rich, nutty flavour and a crumbly texture. We tried both 24 and 36 months which had distinct flavours; the 36-month aged was much stronger and richer but still perfect for sprinkling over pasta! This regional ingredient also has PDO status, produced in the Emilia Romagna region.
Agnolini in brodo
Agnolini in brodo is a traditional dish, small stuffed pasta resembling dumplings, served in a clear broth. The delicate parcels are usually filled with a mix of meat and cheeses creating a flavourful and comforting dish loved by locals. The pasta is usually eaten around local holidays including Easter, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve – a simple yet refined celebratory dish for the whole family.
A trip to Italy would be incomplete without indulging in the creamy goodness of gelato. Parma offers a wide array of flavours and styles. From classic choices like stracciatella to unique local flavours, gelato in Parma is a delightful way to conclude your culinary tour. I have tried a lot of gelato on trips to Italy and Parma had some of the best I’ve tried, the highlight was a unique juniper and honey flavour – delicious!
A food tour of Parma promises an unforgettable journey through the vibrant flavours and rich history of Italian gastronomy. From savoury cured meats and cheeses to sweet pastries and gelato, the diverse palate of Parma will leave you craving for more. Buon appetito!
To book a foodie tour you can check out Tripadvisor or Viator for a variety of options.