Itinerary: Parma, Langhirano
Parma Ham, one of the best and tastiest Italian specialties
Parma ham (Prosciutto di Parma) is one of the most renowned specialties of the Italian cuisine. It is because of its high quality, delicate, sweet and tasty flavor, low calories, and also because it is a fully natural product without preservatives or additives. Let's find out more about Parma ham:
Where it is produced
Although the pigs can come from ten different regions of Italy, Parma ham can be produced only in a strictly-defined area around the city of Parma, especially in the area of Langhirano, a town in the province of Parma which also celebrates Parma ham with an annual festival. Also, there is a museum "Il Museo del Prosciutto e dei Salumi di Parma" (Museum of Ham and Salumi of Parma) you can visit here, with a tasting and a shopping area. The city of Parma, thanks to its worldwide-appreciated typical products, was declared "creative city for culinary arts" by UNESCO in 2015.
History & how it is made
The popularity of this ham dates back to the Roman age, and many references have been found in cookbooks since the fourteenth century. In fact, the area around Parma has always been known as a great production area of ham and other pork products.
The "Consortium of Parma Ham" was founded in 1963 in order to control the production of the ham and the selection of the raw materials. Also, the qualities of Parma ham was acknowledged in 1996, when it gained the appellation of protected origin (DOP).
For centuries, Parma ham producers have followed the ancient traditions and taken care of choosing excellent raw materials. According to that, for instance, the pork's thighs used for Parma ham have to be around 12 and 13 kilos, have to be covered only with a low quantity of salt and pork leaf lard, then put in fresh containers to rest. Thanks to the slow drying process, the aging is longer (up to 12 months) and natural, therefore, it provides Parma ham with a unique flavor.
Qualities & how it looks like
Parma ham is a non-salty ham featuring a delicate and refined flavor. People usually taste Parma ham in finely-cut slices, whose color is deep red: this vivid and natural color is due to the zinc which is naturally present in the pork's meat.
A symbol of Parma ham is the crown that producers stamp on the rind: this guarantees the high quality and genuineness of the ham. The most important evidence of Parma ham's high quality is that no chemical substances, preservatives, and additives are allowed, only a low quantity of salt is enough to preserve its intense taste. Thanks to this, Parma ham is particularly low in fat and calories, and it is rich in mineral salts, vitamins, and proteins. Therefore, it is good for a low-calorie diet and it also helps fight aging thanks to the natural antioxidants.
The best way to taste it
Thanks to its delicate and yet intense taste, Parma ham is perfect when eaten by itself or with bread. It is especially excellent with fresh melon or figs.
Also, Parma ham is the ideal ingredient for both creative and traditional recipes (it is one of the main ingredients for the stuffing of the typical "tortellini pasta").
Parma ham is best served with both red and white wines.
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Some pictures of Parma Ham: