The Po river divides the regions, the food unites. It’s the Romagnardy

An ideal ( fantastic?) region. Gastro-geographies of desire.

by Kevin Ben Ali Zinati

A journey through two regions separated by a river but united by the flavors and taste: a culinary and cultural bridge between Lombardy and Emilia Romagna. This is the story of a gastronomic evidence that is revealed during a lunch at the restaurant, along the Po. When, instead of dwelling on the menu, I order quickly: mixed appetizer of cold cuts and, as the second, the classic pork sausage with lentils. To drink: a good Lambrusco, which the waiter recommended and leading, fast, along with three large plates of cold cuts: the colors and fragrance of everything enchant me.

"We start with a trio of Coppa di Parma, Mortadella Bologna and Salame Cremona. Affectionately it's called the "romagnardo '" tris, the waiter says placing the dishes in front of us.

"Why?" I say instinctively.

The waiter looks around for a moment, lengthens the other chair of the table and says, "Good thing you asked me that question. No one ever asks me! I can tell you why? "

"Sure," I say a little bit embarrassed.

"These three products are sons of two regions ... because they are in between Lombardy and Emilia Romagna, so I'm romagnardi!" the waiter urges. "Coppa di Parma is produced from the neck muscles of pigs and is produced in Modena, Reggio Emilia and Parma but also in Lodi, Milan and Cremona! The climate, the temperature and humidity of the Po Valley give quality and taste. "

"And what about Bologna Mortadella ? Nothing is more Emilian!"

 "True ... but not completely! Ever heard of Citterio and Beretta? Are companies of salami from Milano! The origin of Mortadella Bologna is certainly, but also in Milan they eat Mortadella and they love it! I am sure about it!"

So does this trio of cured meats create a foodie bridge between Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna?

"You're probably saying that even the salami Cremona is ...»

"Romagnardo? Sure! If you go to any sandwich shop in Parma you will feel a smell of garlic spread! It comes from Salame Cremona. It is flavored with cloves of minced garlic that madden everybody. You must know that in the Cremona Cathedral there are tables in which is represented the scene of the killing of a pig and then the creation of salami. And I'll tell you more: the author has also signed some panels of the baptistery of Parma .... "

"So does this trio of cured meats create a" foodie bridge "between Lombardy and Emilia?".

 "That's right, and the list is long, we could have a whole menu. Even the sausage and pig's feet are romagnardi. The tradition is to combine combined those cold cuts with lentils to celebrate the first or the last day of the year. I will reveal a secret: your Lombardy is the birthplace but Emilia Romagna produces and eats large quantities. "

 "In addition to the stomach you are opening me a new world!"

 "You know the story of zampone (stuffed pigs foot)? continues the waiter -. In 1511 the city of Mirandola was being besieged by the troops of Pope Julius II. The people not to lose all the quality meat decides to enclose it in an envelope made from the skin of the pig's feet. Obviously the recipes of the mixtures have changed over time: for example, another legend has it that they put "powdered flavorings, queen cinnamon, mace, allspice, nutmeg, pepper strong crushed. '"

While sipping my glass of wine I think that if the Po divides the regions, the food unites them and that, after all, the taste knows no boundaries or divisions.

Midnight is coming, missing "10, 9, 8 ...." I raise my glass for the toast and in the meantime the waiter is serving the table behind us. "Hey, excuse me, but also the Lambrusco is a romagnardo?" I ask.

He takes an empty glass.

3, 2, 1.

"Sure. But the wine we are making a toast is a Ferrari from Trentino. But it's just and only to introduce a new territorial variable.

                                                                 Happy New Year"!

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