Author: Levi Reiss
If you are planning a tour of Europe, why don’t you consider the Lombardy region of northern Italy? Depending on your particular interests, this beautiful area might be an ideal vacation spot. You can get classic Italian food, and wash it down with fine local wine. There are even some parts of Lombardy that are relatively undiscovered by tourists. This article presents Lombardy outside of its capital Milan or the beautiful Lake districts. These are described in companion articles in this series.
Over the millennia Lombardy has been in the hands of numerous invaders. The list includes the Etruscans and the Gauls, then the Romans, Franks, and Goths, and finally the French, Spaniards, and Austrians. Did we forget the Lombards? All of these invaders left their mark, some more and some less. Keep local history in mind as you tour this impressive region.
The internationally known University of Pavia was founded in 1361 and is still going strong. Visit Pavia’s Fourteenth Century Visconteo Castle now home to the Municipal Museum filled with great paintings and archeological material. The Cathedral’s dome is the third largest in Italy. Pavia’s number one attraction is the Fifteenth Century Charterhouse of Pavia monastery, north of the city.
The city of Cremona, whose population is some seventy thousand, was settled over two thousand years ago. It was home to Stradivari, the world’s greatest violinmaker. Actually the violin was invented in Cremona way before Stradivari was born. Today one finds more than 50 violinmakers in Cremona, plus an International School of Violin Making and Stradivarius Museum.
Mantua is a city of about fifty thousand. Romeo fled to Mantua after he killed Juliet’s cousin in a swordfight. The 500-room Palazzo Ducale was constructed between the Fourteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Its centerpiece, the Wedding Chamber room took a full seven years to paint. When you see it, you’ll know why. Don’t forget to look at the ceiling.
The Sixteenth Century suburban Palazzo Te is one of the greatest Renaissance palaces. Make sure to see Cupid and Psyche’s Room showing a wedding with interesting and unusual guests. The walls contain Seventeenth Century graffiti.
Gourmets know Cremona for its Mostarda, mustard flavored candied fruits that accompany Bollito Misto, mixed boiled meats. A local version includes calf’s head, veal tongue, and pig’s foot. The area’s best-known wine is the Oltrepo Pavese DOC grown south of Pavia, across the Po River, hence its name. This wine is made in multiple styles from multiple grape varieties and is said to be the most popular wine in Milan.
About the author:
Once upon a time Levi Reiss wrote ten computer and Internet books either alone or with a co-author. And yet, he really prefers drinking fine Italian or other wine, with the right food and friends. He knows about dieting but now eats and drinks what he wants, in moderation. He teaches computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his Italian travel website http://www.travelitalytravel.com which focuses on local wine and food.
Lombardia in Cucina: The Flavours of Lombardy
Milan-style risotto, pizzoccheri Valtellinesi, and pumpkin tortelli to start; casoeula, Milan-style cutlets, frogs stewed in tomato to follow, and to send, a slice of sbrisolona cake or panettone.
Lombardy surprises with the richness of its culinary traditions and natural ingredients, which modernity has barely affected.
"Milano in Cucina" captures this kaleidoscope of flavours, with contributions from some of the most celebrated chefs on the culinary scene, who pay homage to their territory, and whose skill is able to present a modern vision in keeping with the region's progressive spirit.
The Italian Academy of Cuisine
La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy
Fifty years ago, a group of Italian scholars gathered to discuss a problem: how to preserve traditional Italian cooking. They formed the Italian Academy of Cuisine to document classic recipes from every region. The academy’s more than seven thousand associates spread out to villages everywhere, interviewing grandmothers and farmers at their stoves, transcribing their recipes—many of which had never been documented before. This is the culmination of that research, an astounding feat—2,000 recipes that represent the patrimony of Italian country cooking. Each recipe is labeled with its region of origin, and it’s not just the ingredients but also the techniques that change with the geography. Sprinkled throughout are historical recipes that provide fascinating views into the folk culture of the past. There are no fancy flourishes here, and no shortcuts; this is true salt-of-the-earth cooking. The book is an excellent everyday source for easily achievable recipes, with such simple dishes as White Bean and Escarole Soup, Polenta with Tomato Sauce, and Chicken with Lemon and Capers. For ease of use there are four different indexes. La Cucina is an essential reference for every cook’s library.
Milano in Cucina: The Flavours of Milan
The famous Risotto Alla Milanese gets its golden hue from the precious spice saffron. Legend has it that the dish came about when a Milanese painter decided to gild the risotto served at his wedding banquet with a harmless gold-colored dye. In Milan, they traditionally serve Risotto Alla Milanese with ossobuco (braised veal shank).
Traditionally made with raisins and candied citron, or with a creamy cream filling, the light, fluffy brioche-like bread called panettone may be tall or short, covered with chocolate or flavored with various liquors, but it’s always a symbol of the Christmas season.
With its hallmark domed shape, panettone graced Christmas tables in Milan since at least the 15th-century. Common knowledge claims its invention is from Milan. It is the most famous Christmas Lombardia food.
The Pax side of the Moon featuring Cesareo
Lombardia (Dicon tutti che sei mia) Quarantine Version - feat. Cesareo (Quarantine Version)