Are You Sure You Aren’t One of My Sicilian Cousins?

Today was a day of food excursions. Or more specifically, “excursion.” B had arranged for us to go with a group on a tour of the regions three biggest foods (there are more than three, but one must have limits).

The driver was to pick us up at 7:10. I was awake well in advance, and was a touch concerned when neither L nor B was up at 6:55. I knocked on the door and heard movement, so thought “perhaps they are de-prioritizing breakfast this morning” and ate my pastry without them. But when 7:05 rolled around I felt compelled to knock on the door again. L came out and was apparently unaware of the time. Breakfast would have to wait. We sprinted down the stairs (I, of course, had enjoyed a nice leisurely breakfast!) and hopped in the van.

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The van took us to the caseifico where we would tour parmiggiano reggiano cheese making. Alessandro dressed us in bunny suits and we were on our way. Now I have done a similar tour before, but each time pick up something different, so don’t mind going back. There is something awe-inspiring about food being made using an ages-old technique. The tour finishes with a cheese tasting as well as some mortadella sandwiches and lambrusco. L and B find this to be a nice breakfast, and in classic hobbit fashion, I declare it a proper second breakfast.

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From here we are whisked away to one of the houses where balsamico tradizionale is made. We see the casks and hear the stories. We taste the balsamico. And we have the balsamico with some of the best ricotta I have ever eaten as well as with vanilla gelato. This is very similar to the prior tour I did, but that tour was a bit more intimate with a different nuance. I am happy to take the tour again, however, and purchase yet more balsamico (who doesn’t need a little more?)

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From here we go to a factory where prosciutto di Modena is made. There we find room upon room of pigs’ hind legs curing. In my mind I imagine thousands of pigs wheeling around with only front legs, whereas carts are supporting their back halves. They must be adorable tasty pigs

Anyway, I also learned that anybody can make prosciutto, but only in Modena can one make Prosciutto di Modena (just as only in Parma can one make Prosciutto di Parma). I must speak to my friend, K, about making Prosciutto di Michigan. I’m fairly certain we could get R on board with the plan.

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At the end of this tour we gorged ourselves on prosciutto sliced on a traditional slicer and more lambrusco. Then the drivers whisked us away to a trattoria overlooking the town of Modena, where a little old Italian lady cooked lunch. And where we all ate far too much food.

20130909-230952.jpgThere was a bowl of meat tortellini with a parmiggiano cream sauce.

20130909-230957.jpgThis was followed by tortelloni of ricotta with porcini mushroom sauce.

20130909-231005.jpg Then triangoli of potatoes with a cinghiale (wild boar) sauce.

20130909-231012.jpg Then came secondi. I have no picture of the jumping chicken. But it was really delicious. The grilled sausage was likewise quite tasty, although I wasn’t a fan of the prosciutto wrapped pork, which was a bit dry.

20130909-231017.jpg There was also a dish of braised cinghiale. It was melt-in-your mouth delicious. As I cleared my plate the guide gave me more, despite my protestations. I accused him of not listening to me and possibly being a relative, as my cousins do the same thing. He responded to this by pouring more wine, and eventually more grappa.

We returned to town in a stupor of excessive satiety where we collapsed briefly in the apartment.

20130909-232553.jpg Once recovered, I took L and B to visit some of the street vendors downtown where we bought some incredible figs. And we finished up the evening drinking Aperol Spritzes at a wine bar and noshing on the free antipasti they had available. What a day!

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