Foods So Good They're Protected By Law

Alex Van Buren
Food Features Editor
February 24, 2014

Photo credit: StockFood

Pretzel lovers, your stock has risen. The European Union just added the Bavarian pretzel to its ”protected origins” list. “Only pretzels produced in the southern German state can be sold as “Bayerische Breze,” or Bavarian pretzel,” reports the AP.

Nice! And it’s possible there’s a Bavarian pretzel aficionado on the EU commission, as its ruling waxes downright lyrical: The pretzels have “a doughy taste, combined with a short, crisp crack and a soft, fluffy texture… whose shape symbolizes arms folded in prayer.” 

Anyone want a pretzel now? Yeah, us, too. International protections for food stuffs can be complicated; European Union protections (such as the one for pretzels) don’t apply stateside. (But we have some of our own; did you know Vidalia onions must be grown in a certain region of Georgia?) Here are a few of our favorite foods protected by various laws around the world. 


Photo credit: StockFood

Aromatic and tasty as all get out, Stilton must be produced in one of three counties in the United Kingdom. Paired with a big red wine or port, it’s pretty unbeatable.

Prosciutto di Parma

Ah, prosciutto di Parma. The Italian cured ham must be made in Parma, a region of Italy that’s South of Milan and North of Florence (and more precisely, between the rivers Enza and Stirone). is more delicate and more voluptuous than the supermarket prosciutto you see crammed between two slices of plastic (although some newer domestic versions are very good).


Thanks, too, to Italy for Parmigiano-Reggiano. (You’ll know the real stuff by the stamped rind.) We don’t know what we’d do without you in our salads, finishing our pastas, or sprinkled on top of whatever looks like it needs you. 


Photo credit: StockFood

We’d be lying if we said we didn’t have a bottle of Office Scotch. To be called the genuine article, Scotch must be distilled and fermented in Scotland. (For further nerdy reading, go here.)

Jamón ibérico

Photo credit: StockFood

Nuttier and with even more personality than prosciutto, jamón ibérico is one of the trendier pork products of the moment. We have Spain to thank for this beauty. It’s nuanced enough that we like to eat on its own, or as part of a charcuterie platter, maybe with a glass of Lambrusco in hand.


Yes, we also love Crémant, Cava and Prosecco, but what would a grand celebration be without a proper glass of Champagne? The Champagne region in the northeast of the country is the only place that can make the stuffMerci, France!

Balsamic vinegar di Modena

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The home cook with chops starts paying attention to the caliber of her vinegars, from Champagne to Sherry to yes, balsamic. Balsamic vinegar di Modena, which Italy protects, can elevate a strawberry panna cotta or a plate of figs from ho-hum to hotness.