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Vanessa

Italian cured meats

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(also posted on the Spanish forum)

A colleague at work has just revealed his ambition to set up his own business in his home country producing cured meats - sausages, hams etc. (Yes, things are looking up on the culinary front at work). He has already set up a learning session in Corsica and is now looking for somewhere in Italy where he can acquire knowledge, like a small producer. I have the odd contact in Italy that may be able to help him, but wonder if any of the e-gullet residents of Italy can help. I have no doubts as to his drive and ability to succeed, just sad that his business will be on the other side of the world.

Any pointers?

v

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This is a very large category. Where do his interests lie? Not only are there many types of affettati but every region is distinct.

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In terms of regions, he says Piemonte & Tuscany. I think he's into any opportunity that may offer itself to learn about making a quality product. A preference for prosciutto and salame rather than fresh-cured stuff. His only experience is making biltong - not very appropriate!

v

p.s. He just came in my office and gave me a load of Poilane bread - I like this guy!


Edited by Vanessa (log)

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In terms of regions, he says Piemonte & Tuscany.  I think he's into any opportunity that may offer itself to learn about making a quality product.  A preference for prosciutto and salame rather than fresh-cured stuff.  His only experience is making biltong - not very appropriate!

v

p.s. He just came in my office and gave me a load of Poilane bread - I like this guy!

He really should devote some attention to Emilia Romagna - if there is 'a' region for cured meats this is probably it.

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Yes, I agree, and I did try to push him in that direction, but without success... I think he was originally focussed on Corsica and Spain and hadn't thought too much about Italy.

v

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Yes, I agree, and I did try to push him in that direction, but without success...  I think he was originally focussed on Corsica and Spain and hadn't thought too much about Italy.

v

He better do a little more research. As fine as these products are in Spain and France - Italy is the king of this category producing a staggering variety of products.

Pigs live a dangerous life in Italy.

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Yes, I agree, and I did try to push him in that direction, but without success...  I think he was originally focussed on Corsica and Spain and hadn't thought too much about Italy.

v

He better do a little more research. As fine as these products are in Spain and France - Italy is the king of this category producing a staggering variety of products.

Pigs live a dangerous life in Italy.

Craig - careful what you say. I've heard serious Italian food experts admit that the best ham comes from Spain :raz: . And I feel they are right.

I would say that Italy and Spain are up there together.

v

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Yes, I agree, and I did try to push him in that direction, but without success...  I think he was originally focussed on Corsica and Spain and hadn't thought too much about Italy.

v

He better do a little more research. As fine as these products are in Spain and France - Italy is the king of this category producing a staggering variety of products.

Pigs live a dangerous life in Italy.

Craig - careful what you say. I've heard serious Italian food experts admit that the best ham comes from Spain :raz: . And I feel they are right.

I would say that Italy and Spain are up there together.

v

Serrano ham is one of God's gifts.

You know an Italian that thinks it is superior to proscuitto crudo?

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Beware! Any minute now, Steve Plotnicki will weigh in and allow as how the French cure better hams than the Italian or the Spanish! There is no question that the Spanish cure a mean ham, and I think that the serrano in the U.S. is often better than the imported prosciutto, as it seems to travel better for some reason. If the Italians have the edge, it is not due to your average prosciutto crudo, but rather to the sheer variety of first-quality artisanal hams from Parma and San Danielle. In particular, there is a boneless heart-of-prosciutto product known as culatello (the authentic culatello is getting hard to find even in Italy these days) which cannot be described in mere words.


Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

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Beware!  Any minute now, Steve Plotnicki will weigh in and allow as how the French cure better hams than the Italian or the Spanish!  There is no question that the Spanish cure a mean ham, and I think that the serrano in the U.S. is often better than the imported prosciutto, as it seems to travel better for some reason.  If the Italians have the edge, it is not due to your average prosciutto crudo, but rather to the sheer variety of first-quality artisanal hams from Parma and San Danielle.  In particular, there is a boneless heart-of-prosciutto product known as culatello (the authentic culatello is getting hard to find even in Italy these days) which cannot be described in mere words.

I have to agree that a top culatello is probably the ultimate, let's say the beluga of cured pork products and I count myself fortunate to have experienced it.

However, on the ham front, I still think Spain beats Italy easily. Please remember that serrano ham is not a particularly high-quality product. The stuff to take seriously includes the words iberico, preferably pata negra, and, ideally for the best, bellota - denoting that the special breed pig has been fed on acorns.

I have had good Italian Parma hams and also from Tuscany and from Sauris. But none of them equal the best Spanish hams I have eaten in terms of depth of flavour and melting texture.

When it comes to salame-type sausages, the comparison is more difficult. Italy usually beats in the salame category where red pepper is not involved (salchichon in Spain), which is not to say that there may not be exceptional Spanish ones.

The south of Italy has a surprising number of spicy, peppery salame, some of which are great, but not as great as the best chorizo in my view.

I don't believe in hierarchies of supremacy - I can't imagine anything more pointless and boring. However it is fun to compare what Italy and Spain have to offer in this sphere. I'm sure the two countries are linked via their pork products in a similar way that parts of Italy have been linked historically with Spain over the centuries. Just think of the Majorcan sobrasada and ciausculo from the Marche. Both soft, spreading sausages (made in heaven). But the Majorcan full of paprika and a finer texture, the Marche sausage quite coarse with no red pepper but plenty of garlic if I remember rightly (a couple of years since I've had it, although I've seen it at Borough).

v

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Here, here! I'm in the great ham is great ham camp, and look forward to sampling some of the best Spanish hams you describe in your post. Like good Italian hams, the better Spanish hams are hard to come by in my neck of the woods.


Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

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I have had good Italian Parma hams and also from Tuscany and from Sauris.  But none of them equal the best Spanish hams I have eaten in terms of depth of flavour and melting texture.

I don't believe in hierarchies of supremacy - I can't imagine anything more pointless and boring.  However it is fun to compare what Italy and Spain have to offer in this sphere.  I'm sure the two countries are linked via their pork products in a similar way that parts of Italy have been linked historically with Spain over the centuries.

v

Just a question concerning the proscuitto you're referring to - did you have them in Italy or the USA or UK?

As far as comparing for quality I think we all need to compare them as frequently as possible before we arrive at a conclusion. :biggrin:


Edited by Craig Camp (log)

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Pata Negra, Oh God, what a memory flood!

Sitting on the curb in Cueta waiting for the Algeceiras ferry, gnawing on a sammy. Thanks V.

Nick

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