Like all Italian cities, Modena has its culture deeply rooted in its extraordinary culinary traditions and offers a vast range of unique and tasty delicacies. During a visit to the city, you should taste the best local products and produce as well as the most famous and tasty dishes. From wine to dessert, let’s look at what to eat there in order to have the full Italian food experience.
The province of Modena, together with Mantua, Parma, Reggio Emilia and Bologna, is home to the king of all Italian cheeses, the most loved and renowned around the world: parmesan. This product, that baers the Protected Denomination of Origin title, dates back to the Middle Ages and remains the star of many traditional dishes even today. You can even go to taste parmesan in the traditional cheese factories around the region and discover what a difference the aging process makes. It’s a very different food experience!
Now, if parmesan isn’t for you, why not sample one of the other cheeses that originate from this city? You could try the Caciotta dell’Appennino Modenese which is a fresh, soft cheese or the Montanaro that is instead semi-hard and slightly aged.
Cured meats and sausages
Although not as well-known as that of Parma, another popular product that comes from the city is the prosciutto di Modena. This together with lard, coppa, mortadella and various types of salami (among which the San Felice variety stands out) is a must for all cured meat lovers. But what is the best way to enjoy them? Usually, they are accompanied by a full basket of fried gnocco, tigelle or with even more classic Modenese delights such as fattened gnocco and stria (traditional baked goods that are similar to focaccia).
Among the typical dishes deriving from pork, cotechino, ciccioli and zampone are perhaps the most popular, all of which bear the PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) stamp.
Wines and liqueurs
To wash down these delicacies, there is nothing better than a sweet, fresh, sparkling wine or in other words, a glass of Lambrusco DOC. This wine pairs perfectly with the Emilian cuisine thanks to its different varieties – the best known of which are Grasparossa, Salamino and Sorbara – all of which are exclusively produced in this province.
On the other hand, we have the liqueurs. Two traditional liqueurs that are ideal to round off any meal are Nocino or Sassolino. The first is a traditional digestive made from the walnut husk that is sweet and moderately dense and the latter has an anise base that is enriched with other spices such as cinnamon and cumin.
Now, the real star is the balsamic vinegar. It can be divided into two types of product: balsamic vinegar of Modena PGI and the traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena DOP. The first is the most common as it does not require a long aging process. The second is obtained by cooking local grape must (mainly Lambrusco and Trebbiano), fermenting the liquid and aging it in wooden barrels for no less than 20 years. Your Modenese food experience will not be complete without tasting this product in its home.
Emilia-Romagna is the home of fresh pasta and in this city in particular, there are many opportunities to taste delicacies like tortellini, served in broth, tagliatelle with meat sauce (prepared with a wild boar or hare sauce) or the traditional rosettes (a rich and delicious baked pasta that has become a symbol of the classic Modenese Sunday lunch). The taverns and trattorias in the city are temples of these traditional dishes but you can also taste them in street-food form with an extra modern touch for a different Italian food experience.
Indulging in something sweet is a must! One of the oldest desserts renowned in this city is Bensone, a biscuit that holds humble origins. Made with simple ingredients like flour, butter and sugar, it is very popular for breakfast and snacks.
Then, there is the famous English Trifle that is well-known throughout the region, and, among the most refined desserts, the Torta Barozzi. Originally from the town of Vignola, it is a cake that is comprised of dark chocolate, almonds, peanuts and coffee. It was created in 1886 by the pastry chef Eugenio Gollini and dedicated to the architect, Jacopo Barozzi. Even today, his heirs are proudly guarding the recipe!