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Polenta, aceto balsamico, parmigiano and so much more

Summer time has come and with it, vacations for many people. Maybe it’s time for me to be more ‘epicurean‘ on this blog. Each country has great places to stay, such as two specific regions in Northern Italy (since I barely know Southern Italy -for now): Emilia-Romagna and Lombardia. First time I went there it was almost twenty years ago and I ate a ‘polenta e gorgonzola’, a dish made from boiled cornmeal cooked with Gorgonzola cheese. I was young and it looked like the Couscous (and Tajine) my grand-mother used to cook, but with cheese only. Traditional polenta is slowly cooked, up to two hours; totally different from the made-in-a-minute microwave oven recipe you can find at the supermarket…

Later I discovered what true Parmesan really was with Parmigiano-Reggiano (region of Parma). Taste and texture are far from what we all use to call Parmesan outside of Italy. No need for bread, simply add some balsamic vinegar of Modena on top and it will make your taste buds dance. Both Parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano) and balsamic vinegar of Modena (Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena) are a protected designation of origin (DOP – Denominazione di Origine Protetta) in Europe and it certifies you buy the original, traditional and unchanged recipe. The price is high but you have to add no more than two drops of balsamic vinegar on your tomatoes (you know the ugly but tasty ones, not those you buy during winter time…) or on any other vegetable to get its flavor, same for Parmigiano-Reggiano.

I don’t eat a lot of meat but I can make an exception for the Culatello di Zibello (DOP), exclusively made in the towns in the region of Emilia-Romagna, along the River Po. It’s ham but you surely never ate this kind of ham before in your life. I could also talk about pasta (with pesto) and pizza (forget Pizza Hut!)… If you plan to go to Northern Italy, then take time to appreciate the food, and to visit the great places around like Milano, Modena, Parma, Mantova, Bergamo…

I only talked about some of the italian products I like, it would take too long to talk about the places, maybe next time. ^_^

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