For Those Who Travel to Eat

April 4, 2017

There are so many things to love about Italy. There is the art, the architecture, the music, the scenery, the history, the people, the food and the wine. I love them all. But I must admit, my love of food and adult beverages is right near the top.

Growing up as an Italian American, I thought I knew what Italian food was all about. I was wrong. There is no such thing as Italian food. It varies throughout the country. Every region has its specialties. But the one region to rule them all is Emilia Romagna. And I found the book that helps me and will assist you to understand why Emilia Romagna is the Food Region of Italy.

The Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna, by Amber Hoffman, also known as With Husband in Tow, is for all Italophiles who travel to eat (and drink) in Italy. We ache to experience magnificent i primi e secondi  piatti, (first and second courses) that tickle our tongues with exciting flavors and textures and  please our sense of smell with aromas and bubbles of joy. And when we find a combination like that, we want to know how it was made, where it came from and can we please have more? Amber takes us step by step through the history of each flavorful bite or sip of nearly every major food and beverage choice in Emilia Romagna, and believe me, there are many choices. See just a few delightful morsels on the following map.

That is just the edibles. The wine, oh the wine of Emilia Romagna is just as plentiful and as splendid.

Amber divided her guide into three main segments. Part one takes us through the delightful edibles shown on the map above and explains their strict, traditional methods and the highly sought after classifications that are used all over Europe: DOP and IGP. I had no idea this region had over 40 DOP and IGP foods, more than anywhere else in Italy. You need to check out her book to understand just how strictly these designations are tested and issued. Some of the most commonly known foods we all know are:

Parmesano Reggiano:

Here two men take the basis of the Parmesano out and place it into this mold. Amber explains the entire process so well, I felt I went back in time to last year when I visited and watched the demonstration. I also wandered among the stacks of the aging rounds of cheese and compared the flavors of the younger versus those wheels aged longer. And the scent,  the scent.

Amber introduced me to the fascinating history of Formaggio di Fossa, or Cave Cheese. I am not telling. You must read it.

And Squacquerone cheese is shown above (love the name and the story behind it).

The meats, oh the meats include prosciutto di parma, (shown below with gnoccho fritto)

mortadella, pancetta, cotta, salame, culatello and more. (See culatello below).

And then there is all that pasta.

And, let us not forget, Aged Balsamico. The story of that process and how it was originally tied to the birth of a child—you have to read Amber’s book!

Liquid gold in my opinion.

There is more but I cannot give it all away. (Truffles and Gelato!)

Part two is all about the Vino, wine, of Emilia Romagna. I had no idea that this region was the second largest wine producer in Italy. Did you?

Most of us have heard of Lambrusco. Did you know there was more than one? I didn’t really understand that. The bubble factor is also varied. I had no idea.

There are other flavorful wines from Emilia Romagna that I must go back to sample. Reds and whites, carbonated and not. Names like Pignoletto and Malvasia. I must return with this book in hand.

Part three of The Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna is all about the logistics and locations of each item discussed. It lays out possibilities for travel, choosing larger providers versus small, slow food, artisanal establishments, who can help you plus choices of where to stay. Amber recommends the services of Helena of YUMMY ITALY, Helena is a friend or mine who has been trained and certified as a sommelier, and even as a taster of Balsamico. I would highly recommend her as well as Amber and her guide for a food and wine adventure of a lifetime. Reading this traveler’s guide makes me yearn to return to Emilia Romagna soon. When you read it, you will understand.

Buy it! Give it as a gift to any Foodies in your sphere of influence. Step off the standard, tourist beaten track and explore the bread, pasta, meat and wine basket of Emilia Romagna. I can arrange it for you. But read the book first. Then, andiamo!  Let me plan it out for you.

Thanks to Amber Hoffman along with her Husband in Tow, Eric, for doing the legwork for us. Amber, your knowledge of the area is really extensive. Maybe we will meet in Bologna or Modena someday. Spero di si!

Ciao for now!

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