One thing is for certain—Italians know how to eat well. From creamy cheeses to homemade pastas to high-quality meats, there is no lack of delicious food throughout Italy. One particularly delicious Italian staple is prosciutto di Parma, possibly the most well-known type of Italian ham that has been dry-cured. Whether you are experiencing Italy first-hand or trying to recreate an indulgent Italian meal, prosciutto di Parma is an essential ingredient.
How is it Made?
While only two ingredients—ham and salt—are needed to make prosciutto di Parma, the process is anything but simple. In fact, in order to be called prosciutto di Parma, the ham must be prepared according to specific standards and procedures set out by the Parma Ham Consortium. You can see that Italians take their ham seriously!
First, the ham must come from a certain type of pig that eats a certain diet and that has reached a certain age or weight. The farm and processing facility must be certified, with certification requiring regular supervision and inspection, and the prosciutto must come from the area around Parma. The hams are salted and then hung for at least 12 months and often much longer.
Why you will Love It
The flavor of prosciutto di Parma is rich and complex. The ham can be buttery and soft, rich and meaty, nutty, sweet, and salty, all at once, and the thin layers can be so tender they almost dissolve in your mouth. You can enjoy this prosciutto in any number of ways—with breads and cheeses, added to salads or pastas, or simply on its own. Prosciutto di Parma makes almost any type of dish better.
The best place to enjoy prosciutto di Parma is, of course, in the Parma province. You could even go when the town of Langhirano is holding its annual Festival del Prosciutto di Parma, which generally takes place in September. You can enjoy the prosciutto di Parma alongside the other indispensable food in the region—Parmigiano-Reggiano. If you are interested in delving further into prosciutto di Parma, you can visit the Museo del Prosciutto (Museum of Prosciutto) or can even tour one of the prosciutto production operations, such as the Pio Tosini.
You can also enjoy prosciutto di Parma outside of Italy by ordering it online or finding it in some specialty Italian delis. However, there is no substitute for the Italian countryside itself and prosciutto di Parma just seems to taste better in its place of origin in the midst of the Italians who take so much pride in producing this gourmet food.