Monday, June 15, 2009

Letters from Emilia-Romagna I

I am spending a week in beautiful Bertinoro, a village in Emilia-Romagna, a northern region in Italy. This "state" is known for Ferrari's, Lamborghini's, and Maserati's but it is equally famous for its hams from Parma, its world renown cheese -parmigiano reggiano- and many other delicacies. And, who can forget the mortadella.

We go out every evening to one of the small local restaurants. A background: Bertinoro is small, really small, but it sits on a high hill, relative to its surrounding. Since it is close to the coast (the adriatic - Rimini- is 40 Km alway), it tends to be a bit stuffy down below, and at night
Bertinoro is busy with sun bathers coming up to cool off over pasta and Sangiovese wine.

The local food can be summarized with: PASTA, PASTA, and PASTA. There is also a local bread, (Piadona I believe) - unleavened flat bread that looks like thick flour tortilla. It is served usually with a soft raw cheese that is slightly similar in consistency to cottage, but creamier and more delicious. The food is simple, simple, simple. But, this is why it is delicious. No pretentious sauces, no fancy ovens, or preparations. Rather, hand made pastas, all kinds, with all kinds of different sauces, some successful (like the Ragu above - amazing) and others not as much (salmon based - perhaps meant for the beach goers).

After long evening meals with the students and our generous Italian host, we end the evening with the sweet Albana wine, made from local grapes - really local- from the hills below. And don't forget to "dip your biscotti in the wine" - tiny ones with hazelnuts, meant for dipping- my Italian host yells from across the table. Ah, certain things just make the whole experience that much better.

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