Learn about the Emilia Romagna region in Italy

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Most Americans have very limited exposure to Italian food. Pizza and spaghetti with meatballs may be popular foods here, but they bear little resemblance to the authentic dishes. Despite being unfamiliar in the United States, the majority of Italian recipes are simple to prepare, relying on fresh, high quality ingredients rather than complex cooking techniques.

Italian food is known for its diversity, both in terms of ingredients and techniques. Centuries of political upheavals and other cultural influence have created twenty unique regions within one country. Even if the dishes in two areas have the same name, the recipes are likely to be substantially different.

It’s important to remember that campanilismo, a term for extreme pride in the town of origin, is commonly held across Italy. Every Italian will say that ingredients from their region are freshest, recipes are the most authentic and cooks are the most talented. Rather than being seen as inappropriate, this pride and sense of competition is encouraged.

About Emilia Romagna
Emilia Romagna is a region of northern Italy that lies along the eastern shore. This area is known for their use of the delicious produce that grows locally. In addition to fruits and vegetables, they are famous for sweet chestnuts, porcini mushrooms and olive oil.

Differences in Pasta


Unlike the dry pasta that is eaten in most of the United States, fresh pasta made with eggs is preferred. This type of pasta is simple to prepare, requiring only semolina flour and eggs (preferably pastured with bright orange, flavorful yolks). While a rolling pinand butter knife are all that is required to make homemade fresh noodles, using a pasta makersaves time.

Pasta Shapes & Dishes
Some of the most popular shapes of noodle in this area are tagliatelle (a wide, flat noodle resembling fettuccini), flat lasagna noodles and gramigna (a curly tube shape not often seen in America).

Pasta is eaten with long simmered ragù, baked into pie crusts or layered with hearty meat sauces and béchamel for the lasagna that Bologna is famous for, while Parma takes pride in a creamy sauce made from chicken liver, grated Parmigiano Reggiano and egg yolks.

Anolini are similar to ravioli, stuffed with meat, vegetables and herbs, and served in broth with grated cheese. These delicious dumplings are easily made. Sandwich the filling between two fresh pasta sheets and use a special rolling pin with indentations to shape and cut out the pieces in one step.


Freshly baked bread is very popular in this region of Italy. Flatbread is wrapped around vegetables, cheese or prosciutto and baked on tiles to make piadina. Coppiette, or small rolls, and loaves of focaccia are found everywhere.

Garlic, salt pork and rosemary are used to flavor dough in different shapes. They are also used in

Image of a Basil Plant

tarts called scarpazzone. If these are fried, rather than baked, they’re known as erbazzone. Other fried pastries are flavored with sausage or prosciutto. It is interesting to note that until recently, pastry was traditionally fried in home rendered lard, rather than vegetable oil.

Known for cured meats
In addition to mortadella, prosciutto and other ready to eat cured meats that make this region famous, Modena is known for a sausage that is slowly cooked with lentils for the New Year to bring good fortune. Other meats that are commonly stewed include beef, game birds and poultry. Long, moist cooking renders these flavorful meats tender and succulent with minimal effort.

Having a port along the Adriatic sea provides a steady supply of seafood for brodetto, or fish soup. Another popular seafood dish is anguilla alla comacchiese, or eel cooked in garlic, tomato and onion sauce.

Not surprisingly, the region’s rich fare is generally followed with light desserts that feature their delicious ripe fruits, chestnuts and nuts. Other sweets include cookies, tarts, pastries and sweet pasta.

If you are interested in learning about authentic Italian cuisine, start with region such as Ethe Emilia Romagna region. Many recipes from this region of Italy are available online. Additionally, Marcella Hazan, author of the Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and several other cookbooks, comes from this region of Italy.

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