Monday, June 25, 2007

A Wedding in Emilia

We've just got back from our friends, Regina and Alessio's wedding in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. I was so looking forward to this day to see such dear friends get married but also to experience my first real Italian wedding pranzo. And this being Emilia, a region known in Italy for its gastronomia. I knew it was going to be an event to remember. I won't bore you with photo after photo of insalata di farro (recipe coming up soon!), copious amounts of salumi and formaggi, gnocchi fritti, pizzette, between-course sorbetto, frittata, prosecco, mirtillo, and the 7 tiered tutti frutti wedding cake. No, I'll just focus on two dishes you may not have heard of before: ciccioli and the hunka-hunka parmesan.

In Italy, parmesan is not just a condiment to sprinkle on pasta. At big events, weddings included you'll often find huge 1/2 or 1/4 wheels of parmesan sitting on a buffet table with short, wide knife/spatula things to insert and twist off a hunk of parmesan. This is lovely to eat with a glass of wine or with a little balsamic vinegar drizzled on top.

Ciccioli, I must say was a mystery even to some Italians at the wedding. There were a few "cakes" of this fried, salted and pressed pork fat on the antipasto table waiting to be broken off and munched as a snack. This is not for the faint of heart (or for the faint of artery). But I must say it was delicious. Crunchy and satisfying, it's Italy's answer to Southern pork cracklins and Mexican cicharrones. fact, these little crunchy chunks of pork are the key ingredient to cracklin' bread.


Blogger Beenzzz said...

I love parmesan, so I bet it would be great to eat in hunks! The ciccioli, I might give a try. Simply because I want to say that I tried it. :)

5:18 PM  
Blogger Lea said...

I tried so hard to read your whole post. Really I did. But I kept scrolling back up to drool over that giant mammoth hunk of cheese! EXCELLENT! Now I have an excuse to eat MORE cheese! I'd never thought of just chowing down on a chunk of parmesan.... I could totally dig it.

9:24 PM  
Blogger Lea said...

okay... I got over the cheese wheel momentarily and was able to finish reading the rest of your post. hehe. I'm glad I did.. the only thing that ranks up there with cheese is PORK.. and crispy pork especially often ranks higher than even cheese!

Okay... someone in Italy needs to get married and invite me.

9:26 PM  
Blogger Figs, Bay, Wine said...

Susan, I love learning about customs like this, and I've never heard of ciccoli!! Sounds like a must-try. The huge parmesan thing is something I have seen a couple times (I married a Sicilian-American), and I love it with aged balsamic over the top as you say. Thanks so much for such a cool post, and I hope you had a great time at the wedding!

10:30 PM  
Blogger hellomelissa said...

italian weddings are only figments of my imagination. thanks for making one "real" for me! yum!

and no, my tomatoes are still but yellow blossoms, not hard, green little balls. will t water them while i'm gone?? only time will tell.

3:25 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Beenzzz, Yep, the ciccioli is not for every day, but a great thing to try. I loved it.

Hi Lea, I imagine that the huge parmesan wheel as a buffet item, like many Italian delicacies will head its way west to the States soon. Or you could just come to Italy and crash weddings.

Hi Figs, The wedding was a lot of fun! I've seen ciccioli in Mexican groceries not in cake form, though.

Hi Melissa, Here's a thought: you can put print-outs of delicious tomato recipes on all the walls in the house thus inspiting t. to water. Where are you going?

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,
actually i am wandering around Romagna's hinterland and i tasted Piadina. yumm! What a divine piece of food, really delicious!
Have you ever tried it? It's fantastic with ham and "Stracchino" cheese, and i tried it also with "Nutella" cream chocolate: an atomic bomb!
I tasted your Ciccioli as well but i definitively prefer Piadina.

8:09 PM  

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