Cindy and The Cheese Factory (Parma)
There's a saying in Italy - that if you get lost anywhere in the country someone will come to your rescue and offer you a glass of water and see that you are sent
back safely on your way. However, if you are lost in Emilia Romagna (the province of Northern Italy that stretches from the Mediterranian to the Adriatic and whose principal cities are Bologna and Parma) when you are found someone will offer you a glass
of wine, call all their family and friends to gather for a meal in your honor and then, and only then, send you safely on your way. This saying is true.
This fall we went
to Italy to see our friends in Bologna and Parma and to eat.
There is another saying in Italy - one that has no literal English translation - that in essence means that time
spent "with our legs under the table" (i.e. time eating and conversing) is time well spent. This saying is likewise true.
Our friends, who we've met over the past three
summers when their sons came to Bangor, Maine (where we live) for a baseball tournament greeted us with enthusiasm and great kindness. They opened their homes and their hearts, toured us around the countryside and showed us things that most tourists
never see. Mostly, they fed us.
We ate and ate and ate some more. All this in what is accurately called The Food Valley, some of the richest and most valuable agricultural
land in all the world - the land surrounding Bologna and Parma. This is the world of Prosciutto, Parmigiano - Reggiano cheese, sparkling wines and balsamic vinegar (which is to regular vinegar as a Ferrari is to a moped). From
the cities and fields of Emilia-Romagna we have those gifts as well as lasagna, tortelloni, tortellini, tagliatelli al Ragu and such ordinary splendors as gnocchi fritti (a fried bread, eaten hot from the pan and slathered with fresh, buttery
All the while we had our friends providing a good natured but serious critique of why the delicacies we had before us were superior to those produced
at the other end of the valley.
So, where does this food come from? Who provides this bounty?
Well, after this trip, we have some answers to those questions. Take a look: