Italian Charcuterie

 

If it is true that for a long time Italy’s image has been read through the borders established in its territories by the different grapes and wines, like the different olive trees and their olive oils, this interpretation of both the history and the geography of the italian peninsula can be carried out through the derivatives of meat (especially pork meat): the so called “salumi” (no, it’s not a typo for “salami”…), or italian charcuterie, are emblematic of the italian food (and lifestyle) traditions. Italy is at the first place, within the European Union, for number of DPO and IPG food products: the more than 250 different types of italian salumi represent a unique heritage for the variety and quality that they present.


Some of these are hard to find, and deserve to be preserved by associations and passionates alike. They represent a physical link to some very local communities, thus not simply bringing forth absolutely genuine sensations, but real time travels through the history of those territories. In the North and South Italy, the use of swine meat still resists in strong traditions, within which it is treated and respected like the first and foremost food category. Among the factors that are helping some of this almost unknown (even in Italy) products of the traditional “norcineria” – or “italian charcuterie” –  (a term indicating not simply a profession, but the artisans’ tradition of the processing of pork meat products, par excellence from the city of Norcia) the rediscovery of some of the original italian swine breeds like the “maiale nero” (black swine), the “cinta senese” (Siena’s belt), the “mora romagnola” or the “nero di Nebrodi”.

In order to obtain certain tastes, scents and aromas, not just prime quality ingredients are needed though: “details” like the ripening, the seasoning methods, the use of special herbs and flavors and the absolute avoidance of artificial, chemical products are of the essence. Few products, like “Prosciutto di Parma” or “Prosciutto San Daniele”, have managed, basing their existence on highly qualitative and attentive production processes, to reach (and are able to maintain) a very well deserved attention from the worldwide audience as well as special support from the “industries”, becoming flagships of the italian food traditions globally. But it would be an error to assume, as diffused as its utilization might be, that swine meat is the only one used: absolutely unique and special products exist, making use of meat deriving from beef, horse, sheep, goat, goose, roe, donkey and others… This tradition finds its roots in the rural world and the skill, efforts and creativity that the people from that world developed and demonstrated.