PDO Prosciutto di Parma, or Parma ham, is the result of a slow, natural ageing process in the dry, fragrant air that blows down in the hillsides of Parma countryside. The result is a mild, melt-in-the-mouth ham with a fragrant aroma and prized all over the world.
The borders of the area where this ham is produced are very well defined. Like in an ideal treasure map, these borders mark out very precisely the Parma province area, located 5 km from Via Emilia, and extend southwards to an altitude of 900 metres; the Enza and Stirone rivers act as natural borders.
In this area, Parma ham, or ‘prosciutto’ in Italian (from the Latin prae exuctus or perexsuctum, meaning ‘dried out’) has been eaten since the fourteenth century, when the salt to preserve pork meat became a widely used practice in Parma.
There are several stages that compose its process, from carefully choosing the pig (which shouldn't weigh more than 145 kg and shouldn't be younger than nine months), to the final fire-branding of the stamp, the two Ps, which certify an authentic PDO Prosciutto di Parma.
Whilst salt and pepper may be added to the product during preparation, the use of chemical processing is banned; the ham is then aged for no fewer than 12 months.
The result is a ham with an unmistakable sweetness, which Parma pays tribute to every year in September with its traditional Festival del Prosciutto di Parma. This would also be a great time to take a tour around the prosciuttifici aperti (cured ham manufacturers), or to visit the Museo del Prosciutto di Parma in Langhirano for an authentic experience to discover the king of cold cuts.
Delicious served as slices on bread, Parma cured ham can also be used as an ingredient in pasta dishes, such as "tagliolini" pasta with a PDO Parma ham and courgette sauce, or in meat-based main courses. A typical dish from Parma is "rosa di Parma", a roasted veal rolled and wrapped around slices of Parma ham and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. To enjoy at best the PDO Prosciutto Prosciutto di Parma, you can taste it with a glass of white Malvasia dei Colli di Parma wine.