Padua, a city to taste
The century-old gastronomic tradition of Padua has its roots in the simple produce and products of the vegetable garden, the farmyard and the vineyard, in the sausage "pole", in the fruits in season and, locally, in indigenous vegetables.
Farmyard products represent the royal family of the gastronomic offer in Padua: the well-known Paduan hen, the Polverara hen, the goose, the guinea-hen, the capon and the duck represent a heritage that combines history, tradition, and gastronomy.
Like the rest of the Veneto region, Padua is a land of fine and well known species of vines. DOC wines are produced in five areas: the area of the Euganean Hills, the countryside of Bagnoli and Merlara, Corte di Correzzola and the Brenta Riviera.
Wines are the topic of several events and exhibitions that are usually organized in spring and in autumn.
Since Pre-Roman times olive trees have been cultivated in the Euganean Hills. The Extra Virgin Olive Oil produced in the area of the Euganean Hills comes exclusively from the territory of the 15 municipalities that are under the protection of the Association of the Regional Park of the Euganean Hills. The colour of the oil is typically golden green; it is a delicate product obtained by cold-pressing techniques, and generally bottled after careful decanting without filtering.
Winter tables show two products of excellence: chicory and the Montagnana ham.
All varieties of chicory, the pride of Venetian farming, are cultivated in the countryside of Padua. These types of chicory, be it Variegated Castelfranco, Early and Late Red Treviso, Red Chioggia or Red Verona varieties, are always present in the cooking proposals of the restaurants of Padua. Their soft and slightly bitter taste is particularly appetising in risotto with chicory, an excellent recipe in the traditional cuisine of the Veneto region.
Besides its beautiful, perfectly kept medieval town walls, Montagnana is renown for its ham, a tradition rooted in the rural population of the surrounding plain and which the inhabitants of this old town still call, with proud, prosciutto crudo dolze di Montagnana (the raw, sweet ham of Montagnana).
The sweet taste, the tenderness, the pink colour and the unmistakable smell guarantee the delicacy of this product, so much that these properties were granted the Protected Designation of Origin (DOP) and are now safeguarded by the Consortium of the Prosciutto Veneto Berico Euganeo, based in Montagnana.
On the third Sunday of May Montagnana organizes Piacere Montagnana! the festival of sweet ham.
The produce par excellence of springtime is the asparagus, of which the county of Padua is the first producer both of the white type and of the green species. During its short springtime appearance, the asparagus is an often used ingredient of very simple, yet much widespread recipes. Boiled eggs and asparagus, or the delicate risotto with asparaguses are never missing from restaurant menus or from the tables of the families in the whole county.
In summer Padua proposes its excellent cheeses. Especially in the north of the county, in the area of permanent grazing land, some of the most wanted varieties of cheese from our region are made: among them Grana Padano, Montasio, and Asiago.
Historical recipes date back to the age of the Obizzi, of the da Carrara family and the Contarini, who proved able to create and develop further some dainty dishes while using simple ingredients. It is practically impossible to find an element of homogeneity in the cuisine of Padua, since the territory of its county offers a variegated landscape with lagoons and valleys, hills, rivers and the plain, these areas offering extremely different ingredients that change from one area to another.
Few dishes are present in a uniform manner: probably the most famous of these is "bollito alla padovana", boiled meat according to the recipe written in the 1600s by the German Mattia Giegher.
Other dishes include "risi e bisi" (rice and peas) and the rich "pasta e fasoi" (pasta and beans). Cooking proposals go well with the rich wines from Padua: well known in the past centuries already, as witnessed by the lines written by Petrarca and Ruzante, today their quality is guaranteed by the serious and competent work of wine producers who have united in the Consortium of the DOC wines of the Euganean Hills and of Bagnoli.
With the continuous commitment of restaurant operators, the cooking tradition of the Veneto region and of Padua is passed on the generations with slight changes to meet the more modern tastes and likes, while preserving the delicate peculiarities of old recipes.
The excellence of the food-and-wine tradition of Padua is now certified with the quality mark called Padova da gustare (Padua to taste), and is ruled by the Charter of Excellence of food and wine production in Padua, which sets the criteria according to which wine and food products of Padua can be defined typical, genuine, and traceable.