Mostarda (Mustard) di Cremona Frutta Mista

An unusual specialty typically identified with Cremona, in the Lombardia region of Italy, traditional Mostarda is a mixture of whole fruits preserved in simple syrup and mustard oil. Mostarda’s origin goes back to the honey, mustard, oil and vinegar condiments of the Roman Empire.

The word mostarda derives from the French, moutarde, which in turn derives from mout ardent-a fiery condiment made by adding essence of mustard to unfermented grape must and cooking it down. It also derives from the traditional cugna of Piedmonte.

This is a jam made from boiled down grape must which is spiced with ground mustard and mixed with fruit. During the Renaissance, sweeteners were difficult and expensive to obtain, so mostarda was enjoyed primarily by the aristocracy. Most modern visitors to Italy recall seeing mostarda served with bollito misto, the famous boiled meat dish of the North.

I suspect that the creativity of the cremonesi is in part a product of their substantial cuisine. Most agricultural statistics indicate that the farms in the province of Cremona are the most productive in Italy. This is in the middle of Padania, the fertile plain of the Po River valley. There are beef cows and dairy cows. The former wind up as the secondo at many cremonese meals.

The latter produce rivers of milk, used to make several wonderful cheeses plus butter and cream. A special flavor here is mostarda, which gives a special tang and sweetness to many of the dishes in cremonese cuisine, including tortelli di zucca and bollito misto.

The food of Cremona surely is not light, but it is more subtle than one would expect from a place that relies on the cow for much of its sustenance.

Cremona also vies with Benevento in Campania and a few other towns as the home of the popular torrone. Where it was created is a matter of debate, but there is no doubt that the version made in Cremona is the most famous.

While most food stores in Cremona are closed on Sunday and on Monday afternoon, you can buy 24/7 the Internet products presented on the Internet without having to go to Cremona first.

Where to stay in Cremona

There are hotels, apartments, condo hotels and B&Bs available, check it out and make a reservation here.