Pig’s blood and English soup

sweets and fruits

There is as much variety in the desserts of Emilia Romagna as there is for its pastas,
from simple desserts of fruit to spiced christmas cakes to the more elaborate Zuppa Inglese.

Pastry shops in Parma are more refined and intricate than most due to the influence of Maria Luiga, the Austro-Hungarian Princess and wife to Napoleon who ruled Parma for over three decades. Here you can have  have a Beignet (French for bump), Marron Glacee’ (only in winter), Mille-Feuille (millefoglie in Italian), the classic French dessert St. Honore’  ( the patron saint of French bakers),or a Sacher Torte, just to name a few.

 Some dolci are very seasonal, such as Sanguinaccio, which includes fresh pigs blood,  Piada del Monti made only in October and November for the Day of the Dead or dolci made only for Carnevale or Christmas such as panettone or fritelle. Also every city has its own particular celebrations with a corresponding sweet. Sant’Ilario is the patron saint of Parma and every January 13th the pasticerrias make colorful biscotti con glacee’  in the shape of a shoe.

Of course, there is always gelato and shops with exquisite hand made chocolates, (my favorite shop is in Bologna).


Torta Sbrisolona

Torta Sbrisolona Created around the 16th century in the Northern Italian countryside, outside of Mantua, Sbrisolona was a popular dessert among poor families. In order to save money, they would prepare the tart by mixing cornmeal, hazelnuts and lard, instead of butter. Although this sweet is made with inexpensive ingredients, Sbrisolona was so loved by the people that it was even served at the tables of the noble families of Mantua. In the noble households, the recipe was enriched with more expensive ingredients like sugar, spices and almonds, and butter,without moving too far away from the original characteristics of the dessert. This tart is in fact a very big almond cookie, and according to tradition, you break off pieces with your hands. The torta sbrisolona has a delicious crumbly texture, like a streusel topping.