Italians are very proud of their centuries-old tradition of curing meat, especially pork. The practice especially provided a way of making full use of the meat of the pig, traditionally slaughtered in the autumn, given that the fresh meat had to be eaten within a short time. Preserving the meat by salting and drying it into hams, sausages and other products not only extended the period over which it could be consumed, but created different tastes and textures to be enjoyed.
As is so often the case with food traditions, what was a necessity has developed into an art form. The tradition is most rooted in the north of the country, where the cooler climate made keeping salumi more practical, but almost every region of Italy has its own speciality salumi. Various cuts of meat are used, various ingredients are added to the meat to create different flavours. Mostly the products are made with raw meat which is then cured, but some salumi are cooked – such as mortadella and prosciutto cotto.
Mostly the meat is pork, but beef is cured too, as in bresaola, and so is wild boar. The resulting products are eaten as antipasti or a simple snack, perhaps with some cheese, bread and wine; or used as ingredients to add richness and flavour to dishes.
We stock a wide range of excellent salumi from some very fine producers. Prosciutto di Parma and pancetta, of course, but also some delicious specialities. Here are just a couple you might like to try. Coppa is cured pork, taken from the neck joint: the meat is salted and covered with pepper and spices before being tied and hung to dry. Thinly sliced, it’s a beautiful red colour with pronounced marbling and looks very attractive on an antipasto platter. Salame finocchiona is flavoured with fennel seeds, giving it a fragrant aroma and a delicate, sweet flavour – it’s rather special in a sandwich! Both, of course, taste delicious.
(We sell all of our salumi sliced to order and some can be ordered in the piece if you can slice it yourself.)