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aceto/aceto balsamico

vinegar, and a very special vinegar

Aceto (or acitu in Sicily) is simply vinegar. Pickled vegetables are sott' aceto, literally prepared 'under vinegar'. Of course vinegar can be made from many things. In Italy it's usually wine, white or red, though there's also vinegar from apples or pears, and some exotic imports, as well as vinegars flavoured with raspberries or blueberries. Aceto di miele is vinegar made from honey.

Aceto balsamico is another beast all together. Distilled from sweet Trebbiano (or sometimes Lambrusco) grapes, rich dark balsamic vinegar was as valuable as frankincense in the Middle Ages. It's the most famous speciality of Modena or "Mink City", but also of its neighbour Reggio-Emilia. In both, the real McCoy is D.O.P. (Denominazione d'origine protetta) Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale (ABT), sold in distinctive bottles.

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Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Images by 1hnmr, Creative Commons License, Claudio Cicali, Wikibronco