“There he got out the luncheon-basket and packed a simple meal, in which, remembering the stranger’s origin and preferences, he took care to include a yard of long French bread, a sausage out of which the garlic sang, some cheese which lay down and cried, and a long-necked straw-covered flask wherein lay bottled sunshine shed and garnered on far Southern slopes.”
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows.
Making sausages, salami and cured meats is truly an ancient craft. The techniques developed around the world in order to use the entire animal after slaughter in the days before refrigeration or other methods of preservation such as tinning or vacuuming. In France sausages developed into charcuterie and in Italy into salumi.
The salumi (salami) is made using ground or coarsely chopped meat mixed with herbs, spices and seasoning. The spices and herbs used vary from region to region; wild herbs, fennel, pepper and truffle are common in Umbria, whilst other regions might use cinnamon, nutmeg or orange peel. Recipes are often handed down through the family, and it is the art of combining the right proportions of meat, herbs and spices that distinguishes the industrially-manufactured product from the artisan one. Proscuitto – dry cured ham made from the pig’s thigh – is also extremely popular.
Spello has its own artisan producer owned by a mother and son, Teresa and Ascanto. They have been in Spello for 20 years, albeit they have recently moved premises to the lovely shop pictured above; you may recognise this photo from an earlier post – Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.
The salami are made using pork or wild boar, both sourced locally, and they are produced by Spello artisans. It takes 6 months for the salami to mature and 18 months for the proscuitto. The best selling products in La Bottega di Teresa are proscuitto, palle de nonno (grandfather’s balls) and coglioni di mulo (mule’s testicles). The latter 2 are so named because of their shape rather than their content…or so I was assured!
Classic Umbrian salami include Cacciatore (the hunter) made using ground pork, garlic, pepper and wine, Finocchiona with wild fennel seeds, and Tartufo with the gourmet taste of black truffle.
As well as the traditional cured meats, the shop stocks a range of other products including regional cheeses, wonderful olive oils with truffle, porcini mushrooms, pulses and pastas. And at lunchtime queues form for the porchetta – whole young pig stuffed with offal and herbs, roasted on a spit until the skin is crisp, served sliced in crispy bread rolls. Truly tasty.
The Boar Hunting Song (extract from 19th century ballad)
This is our song
Dash, dash along
To chase the Boar
Streaming with gore
With fiery eyes
His bristles rise.