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Ham, geography of temptations

To the North but not too far, towards the Po river where humidity wraps it all, there’s an area where the Parma ham, the most famous in the world, was born and there’s no other place where it could be produced. It is the plane of Emilia-Romagna.
Why? Since the pigs are even fed with Parmigiano Reggiano’s buttermilk – and this cheese is another local pride thanks to its slow rhythm of production and aging.

Parma ham is a delight for connaisseurs, a heap of energy and health: a lot of mineral salts, easily digestible proteins and few fats. The amazing food industry is a strong feature of the region and a specific law has ruled the tourist itinerary, the famous “routes of wine and tastes”: the one of Parma’s ham and wine stretches for hundreds of kilometres along small villages and medieval sites.
The Modena Ham is produced in Emilia Romagna too, it is featured by the red colour, it is sweet and flavoured and it reminds the valleys  and the hills that are spread around the Panaro river. The National pride is kept high even by the famous San Daniele ham that is produced in the province of Udine, it was the favourite ham of the poet Giosué Carducci when he was hosted by some authorities from the town. Produced in the area of the Carnic Prealps and the Tagliamento River it is ranked among the sweet hams and it’s different from the Parma ham since it keeps its “paw”.

To the North-West of that area, in a small mountain village called Sauris there’s a delicious ham, slightly smoked and produced in a small quantity. All around the changing landscape of the Dolomites. In the near Veneto, in the area between the Berici and Euganei hills, there’s the  Berico-Euganeo ham, aged for ten months, featuring pink colour and fragrant flavour, produced in the province of Vicenza and Verona. 

On the other hand, in the Aosta Valley, to the West of the Alps in the area of Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses – at 1.600 metres high – the delicious Jambon de Bosses is made. It’s the “highest” and most aged ham in Europe, salted and dried in a mix of juniper essence and mountains herbs and it is aged in the hay.
Let’s go down towards the South and let’s reach Dante’s homeland: they say the ham from Tuscany is so savoury because it must be tasted with the typical bread of the region with no salt. Covered with a mix of herbs and black pepper, it can be used in many different ways and it matches the endless charm of Tuscany.

Jumping to the Adriatic coast, to the East of the Country, you’ll reach Marche and the typical ham from that area, from Carpegna, sweet and delicate, produced on the Apennines - in the province of  Pesaro Urbino – the protagonist of a glorious and animated past in the late Middle Ages, spotting a number of small villages that look out on the chalky rocks. Moving to the green heart of Italy towards the South, you’ll reach Umbria and its ham from Norcia, very spiced, made in an area that also covers Spoleto and Cascia.

Did you know that...
The acronyms Dop – Denominazione di origine protetta (Controlled Designation of Origin) and Igp (protected geographical indication) indicate the quality regulations. In Italy there are seven Dop hams: the Parma ham, the Modena ham, the ham from Carpegna, the San Daniele ham, the Venetian  Berico-Euganeo ham, the Tuscan Ham, the “Jambon de Bosses” from the Aosta Valley. Two IGP products can be added, the ham from Norcia and the one from Sauris.


Luciana Francesca Rebonato

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