History of Parma Cuisine
Anecdotes about Taste
Parma has been defined "Capital of Gourmets". And this is probably true. Nature itself has imbued this territory with special environmental attributes such as the flatlands bathed by the Po River, its verdant hills and steep Apennine mountains which man has skillfully put to his use, creating and refining over the centuries some of the most famous traditional products in the world: the region's priceless Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and nutty-sweet prosciutto or its fine hillside wines, legendary culatello and incomparable porcino mushrooms from Borgotaro.
Its agricultural tradition and love of the land has allowed Parma to become, from the 19th century up to the present day, the Food Valley of Italy. Concentrated in this area is quality production of tomato, pasta and dairy products and numerous other gastronomic "reservoirs", aided by an alimentary industry that boasts the most up-to-date technologies in food processing.
But the presence alone of a number of traditional products would not be sufficient in itself. Parma was actually a capital city. Capital of a small duchy sandwiched between the Papal States and Lombardy and for centuries it was a major point of intersection over the Apennine mountains between the north and south of Italy and Europe. The Via Francigena ran through it, the thoroughfare which as early as the year 1000 was a favored route of pilgrims on their way to Rome.
Over this natural crossroads reigned, at different times, the Farnese, a family of Roman origins, the Bourbon dynasties of Spain and France and the Hapsburg Maria Luigia. The Court of Parma was the melting pot of the best from the cuisines of those nations, all skillfully re-worked to reflect local tastes and products, giving birth to a rich and refined repertory of fine delicacies.
Extraordinary to the taste, but also historically speaking, the research into those curious anecdotes that contributed to bringing to life new culinary opulence. This is why in this section, more than on recipes and well-known restaurants (that appear, in any case, in other parts of this web site), we have concentrated on describing the events, settings and protagonists of Parmesan gastronomic history from the 1500s to the present day. Glorious banquets and richly-laid tables, the stories behind unique dishes and products and the art of fine presentation. In short, the history of the gastronomic preferences of this resplendent territory in order to reveal, through time, the secrets behind the "Capital of Gourmets".