The four meals and dishes you can try in Parma on your Italy trip are less about satiation and more about taking pleasure in a dish, an ingredient, and a local delicacy.
Small villages in the Bronze Age gave way to Celtic and Etruscan settlements, before the ancient Roman road connected the peninsula. The city became famous throughout Medieval Europe as a center for great art, science, and philosophy, resulting in an influx of nobility whose tastes for a good meal refined local palates.
By focusing on regional and seasonal ingredients, home and professional chefs develop bolder, more nuanced flavors, and these are four dishes that highlight those efforts.
Prosciutto di Parma is cured meat that has been made the same way for over 2,000 years. The producer rubs and massages the hind legs of pork with salt proportionate to the weight of the meat, before washing the rind and allowing the meat to dry and age for up to 12 months. The simple curing and straightforward aging processes produce unparalleled chestnut and pine grove aromas that carry from the meat. They also add to the enticing sweet flavor created by the simple production and special provincial microclimate.
Parma is known for crafting quality cheese from cow’s, sheep’s, or goat’s milk, and has made the most celebrated cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano DOP, for at least nine centuries. The cheese has become globally famous for its hard, granular texture, tasty crystals, and rich, nutty aroma. The renowned cheese has origins dating back to the Middle Ages, with historical documents recording the production of the Parmigiano-Reggiano as early as the 13th century. Parmigiano-Reggiano even earned praise from Italian writer Bocaccio in his iconic 14th-century stories of the Decameron.
Provolone is made from whole cow’s milk. It has a semi-hard texture, white or straw color, and comes in a variety of shapes. The delicious cheese retains a buttery and sweet flavor, shifting to a subtle piquant taste when aged. The cheese is made in the neighboring province of Piacenza, which has a long history with Parma. Piacenza is the only city south of the Po River producing Provolone Valpadana and has creative cheesemakers who experiment with its shapes and sizes.
Parma is not really known for its desserts, but the sweet confections and delicious creations crafted over the centuries have resulted in the memorable taste of the elaborate Torta Duchessa. The cake brings to life robust chocolate and nutty flavors. The dessert was named for Duchess Maria Luigia and has a rich flavor, combined with a slightly sweet, alcoholic taste. The cake is known for its elegant style, reflective of Parma’s typical, traditional pastries, with ingredients like hazelnut flour, grated lemon peel, dark chocolate ganache, and marsala.
The local ingredients and dishes of Parma represent dynamic flavors that reflect the province’s gastronomic heritage in tandem with contemporary life. The dimensions of quality products have developed for over a millennium, while welcoming the influence from international communities over time. You can find inspiration for your personalized culinary trip with our Italy Tours or learn more about how you can enjoy your perfect vacation with Zicasso’s Italy Travel Guide. Planning a trip? Speak with an Italy travel expert by filling out a Trip Request or by calling our team at 1-888-265-9707.