In this article we are going to explore the soul of that territory that has been renamed Food Valley: the provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia, home of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar DOP and IGP, as well as the beating heart of what even Forbes has called the best cuisine in the world.
The lands of Modena and Reggio Emilia are recognized throughout the world both for their cuisine and for one of the most famous condiments: Balsamic Vinegar, one of the most loved and exported Italian culinary products in the world. Its fame is mainly due to two factors: on the one hand we have a unique and recognizable flavor, while on the other hand we find a great tradition, inextricably linked to the land that gives the origins to this food, namely Emilia, especially the provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia.
Buying Balsamic Vinegar, in fact, does not only mean getting a simple condiment, but also and above all it means buying a piece of history and tradition of that land that has recently been given the nickname Food Valley and that has even been designated by the famous magazine Forbes as the home of the best cuisine in the world.
Balsamic Vinegar is without a shadow of a doubt one of the flagships of the cuisine of this territory and in this article we will analyze its link with the cities of Modena and Reggio Emilia.
Everything you need to know about Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic Vinegar is a condiment that comes from the cooking of grape must.
As we said, it is a product of great tradition and there are different types. The real Balsamic Vinegar, however, is produced by some names and certificates, aimed at avoiding the confusion of an original and high quality product with low level imitations.
There are three consortia aimed at protecting quality and tradition, as well as promoting Balsamic Vinegar to the world. We have the consortium for the protection of traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena DOP, consortium for the protection of traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia DOP and finally another consortium to protect Balsamic Vinegar of Modena IGP.
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar DOP is more valuable, obtained only from grape must and aged for at least twelve years. According to the consortium, the grapes will originate from the provinces of Modena or Reggio Emilia, as well as change the place where the bottling takes place.
The Balsamic Vinegar of Modena IGP remains a product of the highest level, but is less valuable than the DOP, because the rules of the consortium are “less strict” and do not follow the recipe of tradition thoroughly.
Why is Balsamic Vinegar linked to the lands of Modena and Reggio Emilia?
According to various sources, Balsamic Vinegar was already produced in the Emilian area in Roman times. For example, Virgil in the Georgics tells of a woman at work producing a product probably very similar to the Balsamic Vinegar we know today.
However, it was during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance that the recipe was refined in these lands: emblematic of the Este family’s great relationship with this product.
Balsamic Vinegar is in fact inextricably linked to the provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia because it is precisely the climate (cold winters and hot summers) and the soil of these areas that made it possible to create a product so recognizable, whose result would have been (and still is) different if the production had occurred in other geographical areas. As proof of this fact, suffice it to say that the consortia of Modena and Reggio Emilia for the production of Balsamic Vinegar DOP still provide for the exclusive use of traditional grapes from their respective provinces, an essential factor to give the final product that characteristic flavor.
Food Valley nominated by Forbes as the best cuisine in the world
There is no doubt that Emilia-Romagna has something special about food.
We Italians, who have been enjoying the products and recipes born in this land for centuries, have certainly noticed this throughout Europe and even on the other side of the ocean.
It is precisely why the famous magazine Forbes to have evaluated the Emilian cuisine as the best in the whole world, an excellent and well deserved achievement.
The Food Valley, as Emilia-Romagna has been renamed by cooking enthusiasts from all over the world, is the Italian region that can boast the most products included in the European DOP and IGP registers, more than forty, a result achieved after centuries of tradition passed down through the skilled hands of the people who have inhabited these fantastic lands.
Modena, city and enogastronomy
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar DOP is only the spearhead of Modenese cuisine.
In Modena, in fact, you can try a lot of products and foods able to delight all palates and you can do it spending not necessarily a fortune. Many dishes, in fact, derive from the country tradition and are now available in all the typical taverns. We find for example tortellini, tortelli, fried gnocco, crescentine, borlenghi and castagnaccio, a particular cake with chestnut flour.
Obviously we can not forget Lambrusco, a wine that together with the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar DOP of Modena DOP is the real flagship of the cuisine of this area.
Reggio Emilia, city and enogastronomy
Reggio Emilia is also a city that offers much more than the already mentioned Traditional Balsamic Vinegar DOP.
Obviously, we cannot fail to mention Parmigiano Reggiano, one of the most loved cheeses not only in Italy, but all over the world.
Special mention also for pork cold cuts, an animal that has been bred in these lands since the Middle Ages, which has become the raw material for many top quality products such as hams and salami.
Also in Reggio Emilia we can find several trattorias where you can taste typical dishes of the fantastic Reggio Emilia cuisine, such as green tortelli and erbazzone, a dish based on spinach, cheese and chard.
Here we are at the end of our culinary journey between the provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia.
The cuisine of these lands is rich, but there is so much more to say to get to know this territory better.
For example, some of the best car models were born in these lands, just think of Ferrari, Maserati and Pagani, as well as singers and songwriters loved throughout Italy such as Vasco Rossi, Ligabue and Pierangelo Bertoli.
There is therefore no doubt that the land of Emilia is special, a region rich in excellence. Try it to believe it!