Emilia-Romagna is home to three true heavyweights of the food world with an international reputation: Parma Ham, Parmesan cheese, and real balsamic vinegar. As you'd guess from the names, both the ham and cheese come from the province of Parma, where tours of the larger producers are enlightening, enjoyable, and also delicious.
The true aged balsamic vinegar comes from Modena, and its lengthy production and maturation process is one of the reasons why the vinegar is so expensive, but also so sought after - accept no cheaper substitutes!
Elsewhere in the region, the city of Bologna is home to mortadella (known as baloney in the USA), and it is also the city that gives its name to the world's most famous pasta dish, spaghetti bolognese, although quite why is unknown - similar ragu dishes are found throughout Italy.
The many rivers that flow through the region provide abundant trout, carp and other freshwater fish which are very popular in the inland areas. On the Adriatic coast to the east, seafood of course reigns supreme with brodetto de pesce (fish stew) found everywhere, while small grilled fish wrapped in unleavened bread rolls make an excellent harbour-side snack.
Emilia-Romagna is a great producer of wine, most famously Lambrusco (both DOC and table wine), although wines made from the Sangiovese and Trebbiano grape varieties are also popular. There are many local festivals devoted to wine throughout the region, including grape-pressing competitions in Bologna in September, and a huge festival of both food and wine in Imola in November.