Located in the North of Italy, Lombardy is bordered by Switzerland, Veneto, Emilia Romagna and Piedmont. It is one of Italy’s largest regions stretching from the Alps to the lowlands of the Po Valley. Famous for its breathtaking landscapes including the magnificent mountains and rolling hills famous for its vineyards and wine production. This is contrasted to the flat tracts of the Po Valley which is covered by shimmering mirrors of water and rice paddies – which makes this region famous for its rice harvesters which are steeped in tradition.
Lombardy’s food is versatile and has many different cultures resulting it extravagant dishes. Traditionally, dishes use a lot of butter, cream and lard but recently has been converting recipes to olive oil. When you think of Lombardia what first comes to mind? Risotto alla Milanese right? This famous dish is tinted with saffron and enriched with plenty of butter and grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Unlike the rest of Italy, rice and polenta are eaten far more often than pasta and will generally have some sort of game or wild fowl such as rabbit which reflects their pride in their unspoiled countryside. The plains are an ideal location to raise cattle, which keeps the industry booming, providing a flowing supply of meats and many dairy products such as butter, cream and cheeses (Parmigiano-Reggiano, Provolone and Gorgonzola - just to name a few).
Due to these characteristics the cuisine is defined by the inclusion of these products which has also been influenced by the French and Swiss cooking traditions. Polenta is seen just an significant as rice, particularly in the mountains. It is generally served with cheese, a small bird and of course butter. In the town of Valtellina, you will find Pizzoccheri which is a type of homemade tagliatelle-like pasta made with buckwheat flour and served with boiled vegetables and Bitto (a locally produced mixed cow and sheep’s milk cheese). If you are in Mantua, tortelli di zucca is more common which is a ravioli type pasta stuffed with pumpkin.
Milan’s panettone (a rich bread made with candied fruits, citrus and raisins) and other Christmas sweets are renowned worldwide, as are the almond-flavoured Amaretto liqueur from Saronno, Mantua’s sbrisolona (crumb cake), and nougats from Cremona.