Eleven food specialties of the Po Valley of Italy
ITALY (eTN) - A land of ancient culinary traditions, the Po River Valley in Italy offers a rich and varied menu of local specialties - typical expressions of passion and labor of the people who live t
ITALY (eTN) – A land of ancient culinary traditions, the Po River Valley in Italy offers a rich and varied menu of local specialties – typical expressions of passion and labor of the people who live there. Dishes are prepared with natural ingredients, and are appreciated in the historic centers of the cities, in a village outside the city, in typical restaurants, and in trendy restaurants.
Here in detail are eleven recipes providing the opportunity to know the taste and authenticity of the cities that preserve and hand them down.
We start from Bergamo with a dish that has ancient origins – Casoncelli or Casonsei. It is home-made fresh pasta in the typical half-moon shape and filled with the inevitable basic ingredients: meat, grated parmesan cheese, and herbs. The dish is seasoned with plenty of grated parmesan cheese, melted butter, crispy bacon, and fresh sage.
In Brescia, the tradition provides a rich first course, the Malfatti (the misdeeds), large dumplings made of spinach and cheese, seasoned with butter and sage. The best dishes are, however, meat and game, among which the traditional “Polenta e Osei,” (cornflower cake and birds, nowadays substituted with brazed tiny meat rolls), the beef in oil of Franciacorta, and the traditional valleys spit. The lakes, Idro, Iseo, and Garda offer excellent fish dishes.
Cremona, in addition to the typical nougat, offers the Grand Boiled Meat prepared with the finest cuts of beef, veal, and chicken; calf’s head and tongue; and veal and Zampone (pig’s trotter filled with seasoned minced meat). All meat and vegetables, including carrots, celery, and onion, are cooked in the same pot, added progressively for different cooking times, for at least three hours. The Bollito Cremona style is served in thick slices and accompanied with green sauce, Cremona mustard (mixed fruit seasoned in syrup and Sinapis), mashed potatoes, and grilled vegetables.
Lodi will delight guests with a tasty little known dish, the Raspadura (a term from the Western Lombard language which in Italian means scraping). More than a dish is the way to serve it – the Parmesan cheese that is presented as thin layers is scraped with a knife by a particular form of typical Lodi cheese. The Raspadura is usually served as an appetizer, often accompanied by salami, nuts, or mushrooms, but can also be used to garnish pasta dishes such as risotto or polenta.
Modena, besides balsamic vinegar, is famous for its tortellini: ringlets of pasta filled with seasoned minced meat. The Modena Tortellini are made from a simple mixture of water, flour, and eggs, artfully pulled and cut until a thin sheet is obtained. The sheet is used as the basic element for the filling of a tasty pesto compound formed by various kinds of pork and beef, ham and sausage mixed with eggs, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
The late symbol of the city of Monza is risotto with sausage, also known as risotto Monza, a specialty that comes from the Milanese tradition. The basic ingredient is the lean sausage lean to which other ingredients are added, such as saffron, although it seems that the original recipe does not include it. The sausage itself is a product of ancient origins, already used by the Romans who imported it from Lucania, (a region south of Italy), hence the name.
Parma over tortellini in broth offers a rich variety of cold cuts that go well with another delicacy, the fried pie. It is a traditional dish prepared with a base of bread dough, often served with milk and/or lard, and then fried in lard, as tradition says, or oil.
Pavia is a land of excellence for the production of goose salami. Since the Middle Ages, the Lomellina, favored by climactic and environmental conditions, is the most important area for breeding geese in Italy. Two of the most famous examples are: the goose salami from Mortara consisting of a piece of goose meat and two pieces of pork (to be eaten immediately after cooking for the best taste), and the Ecumenical goose salami from Mortara, prepared exclusively with chest goose, without the addition of another type of meat, and then aged for at least sixty days.
At Piacenza, taste the Pisarei Faso – small dumplings of flour and breadcrumbs served with a sauce of beans. It is an ancient complete poor rural recipe, still very popular among people in popular eating places (trattoria) but also in the most sought-after restaurants. A reliable tradition has that the base recipe of Pisarei and Faso originates from the Middle Ages, and was used in the convents of Piacenza with poor nutrients and ingredients to feed passing pilgrims on the Via Francigena to Rome.
The Erbazzone is a typical gastronomic specialty of Reggio Emilia and its lands. In dialect, it is called Scarpasoun, or Scarpazzone Italianate, because in its preparation, the humble peasant families used the white stalk, i.e., the shoe, of the beet. The Scarpazzone is a seasonal dish available from the end of June to November, the period of growth for beets.
The Erbazzone in practice is a pie consisting of a base of pasta (called Fuiada), filling two centimeters with a mixture of boiled beets (sometimes together with boiled spinach), egg, scallion, onion, garlic, and lots of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. It is then closed with another layer of dough sprinkled with lardoons or chopped bacon and pricked with a fork to extract cooking air.
In Vercelli, in addition to the frogs recipe, one can enjoy the Panissa (or Paniscia), a type of risotto dish common along Piedmont and Lombardy, with some regional variations. It is assumed that the name derives from Panigo, a poor variety of millet, with which this dish was cooked, before the spread of rice. However, there is a lack of reliable sources in this regard.