As the first article dedicated to Christmas on the table according to the tradition of our city of origin, Cremona, we could not start from the dish looked upon with greater suspicion by friends who grew up in the land that welcomed us. We speak of course of the fruit mustard from Cremona , inextricably linked to boiled (and, in particular, to the tongue).
Although it is not a typically Christmas dish, for us who spent 80 and more years ago lived hundreds and hundreds of kilometers away from the hometown procuring mustard was not at all easy.
It then became a tradition for our family to have some mustard shipped to celebrate Christmas and feel a little closer to friends and relatives left in Lombardy.
Later, with the opening of the Autostrada del Sole, instead it became a habit to go to Cremona for the bridge of the dead, to visit the family tomb and, at the same time, to stock up on mustard and other Cremonese delicacy, the nougat. Both are strictly Sperlari.
But what is the Cremona mustard ?
It is a preparation based on candied mixed fruit, left whole or cut into rather large pieces. The fruits used are those of late summer and autumn, typical of the Cremona area: squash, white watermelon, figs, apples, pears but also cherries and orange peel.
The fruit, after being candied, is immersed in a glucose syrup flavored with mustard. And it is precisely the presence of the latter to give the contrast to give life to the “two flavors” typical of the Mostarda Cremonese: the sweet fruit and the spicy mustard.
The origins of Mostarda are to be found in the ancient Cremonese monasteries where the monks made a special sauce to preserve fruit. The success maintained intact over the centuries prompted the initiation of industrial production as early as 1836, on the initiative of Enea Sperlari.
Today the production is mainly industrial, but at Christmas in small foodstuffs it is still possible to find a limited artisan production ( source ).
The classic pairings are those with boiled meat, including the Gran Bollito Cremonese , a very rich dish made up of at least five (!!!) fine cuts of beef, veal and chicken, to which are added head, veal tongue and pot salami.
Those who wish to learn more about the history of this dish can consult this article from La Provincia di Cremona . All that remains for us is to wish you to overcome your distrust and immerse yourself in this riot of flavors.