Il maiale è come la musica di Verdi: tutto buono, niente da buttar via. The pig is like the music of Verdi: It’s all good, there’s nothing to throw away.

cured meat

At the heart of Emilia-Romagna’s cuisine are its many pork products

The word salami, as currently used in English, is actually the plural form of the Italian salame; The word originates from the word sale (salt) with a termination -ame used in Italian as an indicator of collective nouns; the original meaning was thus all kind of salted meats. Emilia Romagnas fine-cured salame is highly regard throughout Italy. Production dates as far back as Roman times, as prior to domestication, Emilia Romagnas exceptionally fertile land provided abundant foraging for wild pigs.

Traditionally every Parma family in the countryside kept a pig, which was butchered in the late fall The winter festival called the “maialata” continues to be celebrated as a time when area restaurants serve all manner of pork specialties.

For centuries, the two most famous, Prosciutto di Parma and Culatello di Zibello have been prized for their enticing aroma and incomparable flavor. Sliced paper thin and meltingly tender, by law, these famous hams can be made and cured only in the gently rolling countryside near Parma.

No matter where you eat, a platter of cured meats is the most frequently served antipasto and a great opportunity to sample the variations in local and individual artisans styles.

Lardo di Colonnata

Lardo di Colonnata

One of the more unusual traditional Italian foods is Lardo di Colonnata. This is a type of cured pork fat, which comes from the little village of Colonnata, high up in the Apuan Alps in northern Tuscany. Colonnata is close to Carrara, famous for its fine marble, and lardo was the food of the marble quarriers... cheap and filling. Today lardo di colonnata is a delicacy, rather like a fine ham. It might sound horrible, but to its enthusiasts, it is silky, smooth and very tasty.

Lardo di Colonnata is made from very thin strips of pork fat, taken from the back of the pig. It´s traditionally made in a marble vat, called a conca or conche - the inside of which is rubbed with garlic. The strips of fat are placed inside the vat in layers, and seasoned with salt. Each layer of fat alternates with a layer of herbs and spices. Every local producer has their own special combination of flavorings: but they generally involve seasonings like black pepper, rosemary, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, sage, oregano and even aniseed.

The vat is then sealed and traditionally left in a cave, where the cool mountain air passes around it. The salt dries the pork fat, and the flavours of the herbs and spices seep in. Some say that it´s important that Carrara marble is used for the vats, as this is free from lime. After 6 to 8 months the vat is opened and the lardo is ready to eat. You can buy it from one of the larderie in Colonnata, though these days it is made under different conditions due to new hygiene laws. Classically, lardo is offered as part of an antipasto platter. In some parts of Italy, thin shavings of lardo are served plain as an appetizer, while in other regions lardo may be spread on bread or mixed into salads. It can also be used in main courses; it may be tossed with pasta, for example, or used in stuffing. Some people use lard as a replacement for meats like pancetta.

In Emiglia Romagna, “Pesto di Modena” is Lardo pounded smoth with garlic, rosemary and Parmigiano-Reggiano and served with tigelli. Lardo di Colonnata has IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) status.