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To Europe! Face-Off: 48 Hours of Food

Last week’s winner is Emilia-Romagna (Italy). Thanks to all who voted and be sure to check back later today for this week’s To Europe! Face-Off.

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This week in the Fodor’s To Europe Face-Off, we’re moving onto food. Europe has an endless array of culinary treats. What if you had a 48-hour food adventure with an unlimited budget and an empty stomach? Where would you rather indulge? 48 Hours of Food: Lyon (France) vs. Emilia-Romagna (Italy).

Have more to say than just a simple vote? Feel free to write a comment to explain your opinion, share a memory of one of the destinations, or simply tell us we’re off our rocker because we didn’t include your favorite spot in the matchup. The poll will close at 12:00 PM EST Wednesday 6/2, and we’ll crown week two’s European Face-Off winner later that afternoon.

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No other city in France teases the taste buds like Lyon, birthplace of traditional French cuisine. Home to both the workingman’s bouchons (taverns), irresistible in their cozy checked-tablecloth atmosphere, and celeb chefs, the capital of the Rhone-Alpes region has become the engine room of France’s modern cooking canon. If you are what you eat, then Lyon is both simple and sophisticated–as unabashedly straightforward as a stew of buttery poulet de Bresse and as glamorous as black-truffle soup in pastry.

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Birthplace of France’s original comfort food, Lyon reinvented itself in the 1970’s when native chef Paul Bocuse helped launch the Nouvelle Cuisine revolution. Since then, the buzz factor has been revved up even higher by the molecular gastronomy of the new megastar of nearby Annecy, Marc Veyrat. This philosopher-chef has rocketed French food another step into the ozone with cuisine as light and lofty as the Alpine environment that produces it. His headline-making creations–caramelized frogs with wild licorice, anyone?–are the talk of foodies everywhere.


We wanted to limit our choice to Bologna, but we couldn’t. To overlook nearby Parma and Modena would be a travesty. So here’s to the entire Emilia-Romagna region. Gourmets the world over claim that this region’s greatest contribution to humankind has been gastronomic. Birthplace of fettuccine, tortellini, lasagna, prosciutto, balsamic vinegar, and Parmesan cheese, the region has a spectacular culinary tradition.

Beginning in Parma and moving eastward to Bologna provides a culinary tour of Italy’s food epicenter. In Parma, sample prosciutto crudo, raw cured meat. A half-hour trip east to Reggio Emilia puts you in the birthplace of the crumbly and renowned Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. A stop in Modena provides a taste of a species of balsamic vinegar unparalleled anywhere on earth, while a final jaunt to the venerable city of Bologna, birthplace of tortellini, ragu, and mortadella, gives travelers insight into why the city is nicknamed “the Fat.”

Between meals you can sustain yourself with the region’s famous sandwich, the piadina. It’s made with pita-thin bread, usually filled with prosciutto or mortadella, cheese, and vegetables. It’s put on the grill and served hot, with cheese oozing out the sides.

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