Parma, Italy, is known as the food capital of Italy. If you ask an Italian, this therefore means it is the food capital of Europe. Parma is right in the middle of the region of Reggio Emilia Romagna north of Tuscany and Umbria.
The region is famous for Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano, Balsamic vinegar of Modena but there is much more! If you’ve only got one day, then here’s how you can fit the foods of Parma in!
1. Start your day with a Cafe Macchiato
The go-to coffee in Italy is either an Espresso or Cafe Macchiato (an espresso with a dollop of foamed milk). Most commonly consumed while standing at a bar/cafe while chatting to the barista and those around you, or reading the paper.
2. Snack on some Farinata
Also known as “Farinata di Ceci” or “Torte di Ceci”, this is a delicious snack found in “Fornos” everywhere (Forno is a bakery with a wood-fired oven). Farinata is a simple torte/bread with the ingredients of chickpea flour, water, olive oil and salt. Cooked in the Forno. Delish.
3. Tortelli for lunch
Each type of pasta, from spaghetti and ravioli to penne, fusilli and pappardelle, originates from a specific region in Italy. In Parma, the traditional pasta is Tortelli, very similar to Tortellini but bigger. Each Tortelli is only just smaller than the palm of my hand.
There are 3 traditional fillings; Tortelli di Erbetta (spinach and ricotta), Tortelli di Zucca (pumpkin) and Tortelli di Patate e Prosciutto (potato and prosciutto). Traditionally served in a sauce of butter and parmigiano.
Most restaurants like, Trattoria Corrieri, will serve a “Tris di Tortelli”, which is a mixture of all 3 types.
4. Spritz for Aperitivo
Whether you’re in Parma or elsewhere in Italy, you must go for an Aperitivo before dinner (usually 6-8pm). Spritz or Prosecco are the two most popular aperitivi drinks. Spritz is a mixture of either Aperol or Campari (you can choose), Prosecco and soda water.
Included with your drink purchase you will receive some crisps and olives (these bars charge less for the drink) or a small buffet of local antipasti-style foods and cured meats (these bars usually charge a few euros more for the drink). A lovely way to sample local cuisine and relax on a warm summer’s evening!
5. Entree of Salumi varieties and Parmigiano Reggiano
If you’ve not yet sampled some Parmigiano Reggiano or Prosciutto di Parma (and other delicious Salumi from the region), then entree is definitely the time to do it! The Prosciutto simply melts in your mouth and the cheese is perfectly salty and delicious. Make sure you accompany it with some water!
6. Cavallo Pesto for Main Course
Probably not for everyone, but one of the lesser-known traditions of the region is Cavallo Pesto – Horse meat tartar. Eaten with pickled and boiled vegetables. I tried it but wasn’t a massive fan personally – mainly because I don’t usually like tartar, so I took the rest home in a doggy-bag and made some burger patties.
7. Wash it down with Lambrusco Wine
Parma and its region are home of Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine, served cold. It’s a lot sweeter than regular red wine and is a perfect option when you would normally want to drink red wine but the weather is just too hot.
8. Finish with some Gelato
No day in Italy would be complete without Gelato. Pay Marina at Il Gelato… Naturalement a visit for the best Gelato in Parma.
By now you should be done with eating so I suggest you take a passeggiata – “a leisurely walk or stroll, especially one taken in the evening”. To help digest all the amazing flavours from the day before retiring for the evening!