Last year we were fortunate enough to spend a few weeks galavanting about Tuscany. Like any foreign land, it's best to know some locals who can show you around, and we were lucky enough to connect with some great people well before visiting Italy. They shared some incredible meals with us, and clued us into some interesting food culture that seems to be a rarity in the US – home-made charcuterie.
While there are plenty of hardcore foodies who'll get their DIY panties in a bunch because they've been curing their own pancetta since they were in diapers, I think it's safe to say that while home brewing is rampant in every corner of this country, making salami in your bathrobe is a rarity for American foodies. It's even become difficult for chefs to operate legitimate charcuterie programs in New York City restaurants!
But in Tuscany, and almost certainly across Italia, making your own salume is what men do. It is the Italian equivalent to the home brew craze. Pretty rad, right?
Not only are they making salume, they are making some GREAT salume. Our new Tuscan friend Andrea and his buddies have access to a tiny farm that raises a handful of pigs each year specifically for artisan salume-making, so their ingredients are some of the best you can dream of. Unlike San Diego, Tuscany of course is stocked with old stone houses complete with cellars that provide an ideal environment for curing. Add some charcuterie-nerdiness and a healthy dose of patience (good pancetta takes at least a year and a half, says Andrea), and you've got yourself some world-class salume.
Now maybe I misunderstood the broken English of our new friends, since I'm a wee bit unlearned when it comes to the Italian language. And yes, home-charcuterie is undoubtedly more rare anywhere compared with home brewing in the US. And yeah I know that other Italian home-curers probably don't have access to meat that good.
But either way, there are some people crafting some incredible cured meat in the traditional Italian style, making good on the promise of Slow Food in the country where that movement was born. And of course we at Mother Sponge can't help but share tasty stories such as this, for we are unable to share Andrea's hard-earned salume with you in the literal sliced sense.
I hope to see these kinds of food traditions grow in America, and we'd love to hear about anyone out there making salume at home.