Enjoying quality salami on fine slice of Calabrese bread along with a glass of well-made intense red wine is pure bliss.
Although salami and many other hard sausages are specialties of Italy, France and Germany, in Canada there is no shortage of quality sausages manufactured according to traditional recipes handed down from generation to generation.
Sausages are one of civilization’s earliest convenience foods. Greek settlers of antiquity brought the art of sausage making to Calabria in the south where the tradition continues. The secret of good taste remains in quality ingredients. Pork must be fresh and lean, spices, herbs and other flavouring agents of impeccable quality. The art and science of sausage making is mixing all ingredients in appropriate proportions and drying the final product properly.
In Italy, the ancestors of the inhabitants of Lombardy, the Lombards, were the first in the north to produce salami well before the 10th century. Later on the tradition continued in monasteries. Today several villages are entitled to produce Indicazione geografica protetta (IGP) quality salami according to traditional recipes.
They are Salami de Genoa, Salami de Varzi, Salami Brianza and Salami Piacentino. Other regions and cities have their own versions and each has a somewhat different recipe as is the case with foods everywhere in Italy.
Salami consists of pork, pork fat, garlic, spices, salt, black and chilli pepper. The mixture is then stuffed in natural casings and dried. As the meat shrinks, the casing is tightened to exclude air to prevent spoiling. Salami alla cacciatore (hunter style) was and continues to be the favourite of hunters’ because of its convenience and compact size.
Salami Brianza may be cylindrical, or rectangular, but always intensely aromatic and “sweet”, whereas salami de Varzi is subtler. It was made famous in the 12th century by the Catholic bishop of France and Spain by distributing his native salami to the nobility.
Kings and princes in the 18th century Europe enjoyed Salami Piacentino courtesy of Italian merchants in many European jurisdictions. They are aromatic, deftly spiced, “sweet”, and contain 15 – 20 percent fat. Bona Foods salami are manufactured using traditional Calabrian recipes that are famous for their flavour, texture and subtle spicing. The salami are appropriately dried to enhance the finest quality ingredients Bona Foods uses. Their salametti, sopressate calabrese, Genoa nostrano and cacciatore are well worth looking for.
They taste so good that you might think you eating salami in Italy.
Mortadella is the most famous sausage of Bologna, the gastronomic capital of Italy, a. k. a Bologna the fat, because of its famous rich dishes. Salsa Bolognese, and Mortadella, were invented there. Parmiggiano Reggiano originates in Parma, balsamic vinegar in Modena and Parma ham from the eponymous city.
Mortadella is a pure pork sausage invented by the friars in the 16th century by pounding pork with fat, incorporating spices and whole black pepper corns. The sausage, at least in Italy has a diameter of 20 – 25 cm. and can be one meter long. In Canada, mortadella is produced in a smaller for practical reasons.
Mortadella must be uniformly pink, with an evenly distributed 15 – 20 percent pure white pork fat squares, and studded with whole black pepper corns. Expertly made mortadella is aromatic, smells clean and inviting. It has a smooth texture particularly if served on fine white Calabrese bread.
D. O. P (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) mortadella may be produced in Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, Tuscany, Marches, Latium and Trentino. Most of the mortadella producers had to leave Bologna as the city grew and land values skyrocketed. Regular mortadella, however, is produced everywhere in Italy. Outside of Italy, many sausage manufacturers produce mortadella. Some brands are better than others.
Bona Foods of Toronto, established in 1966 by three Italian entrepreneurs has been able to create a product that can rival the best mortadella anywhere. Their baby mortadella was specifically created for small families and available spicy, lean or extra fine versions with an unmistakable clean aroma and superb, smooth texture.
For an impromptu lunch, nothing is easier than preparing a plate consisting of a few slices of salami, mortadella, a few black and green olives, three or four marinated mushroom caps, a slice of asiago and two halves of marinated artichoke hearts. A bottle of fine Moretti or Nostro Azuro beer and toasted Calabrese bread will help make a memorable lunch or even dinner.