Milk, Fire Rennet and Art – Witnessing the Birth of Ancient Parmigiano-Reggiano

img_3015The Artisans of the Reggio Emilia region have been making Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for about nine centuries. The cheese we are about to witness is identical to the original wheel produced 900 years ago by the monks of Bibbiano. It has the same appearance, texture and extraordinary flavor it had then.

Unchanged like a living relic of Italian food heritage, we have come to discover. Of course, we come to eat. Continue reading

In Search of an Honest Ham – How I Found it in Italian Prosciutto

We arrive in Reggio Emilia, a small medieval village between Parma and Bologna; it is smack dab in the middle of Prosciutto Ham and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese country.

We have come here to visit artisan Prosciutto and Parmigiano makers who use traditional methods specific to Reggio. We also come here to eat. Continue reading

I Focaccia Myself: How Eating this Bread Showed Me the Cultural Culinary Heritage of Italy

Let’s forget Rome and Florence for the moment and fast forward to a small hamlet on the Liguria coast. Nestled between Genova to the north and Camogli to the south lies a brightly painted village named Recco.

It is famous for its water polo team, steep cliffs above the sea, and foremost for its focaccia with cheese.

Upon arriving in Sori, which is a stone’s throw from Recco, we sought out the nearest place to sample this local delicacy. The woman in the trattoria above our apartment made it from scratch for our lunch. At first sight, I thought we had made a language gaff—the focaccia wasn’t at all what I expected. Continue reading

In Search of The Tangible and Intangible Mediterranean Diet

There is a culinary line that dissects the midriff of the Europecontinent. This line proceeds in gradients of latitudes that mayblur as you move from north to south.

 

The people of the north raise herds of cows and goats. Their milk is sometimes whipped into butter or aged into cheese. Almost everything edible is bathed in either cream or butter. 

 

Here the pigs feast on chestnuts and in turn make good sausage. The pickles are fermented, and the kraut soured to nourishsturdy souls through long winter months. 

 

Below this imaginary line, trees pervade. Hot ancient orchards dot the hillsides dripping with great bundles of green-black olives. They’re pressed into a nutty oil for the base of sauces and ragouts or a simple dip for crusty bread. 

 

Tomatoes and vegetables of every size and elongation are bathed in this southern sun.

Every scaled and nautical beast is netted and fished from the sea. 

 

Italy, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Greece, and Cyprus all surround the Mediterranean Sea, these are the people who inspire the southern Mediterranean diet. 

  Continue reading

Jim Riddle Weighs in on The Future of the GRO Organic Check-Off-Like Program

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After the demise of the USDA mandatory research and promotion check-off attempt, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and Organic Voices (OV) decided to take matters into their own hands. Continue reading