Saturday, November 08, 2008

Porcine Pleasure - For Dora

Some of you may recall that last year when I went to Parma my friend Dora was mildly obsessed with one on the town's most famous products: Ham. And frankly there's no way of getting away from it when you hit town. Specialty shops display it proudly in windows and restaurants, trattorias and Osterias feature it on menus - in fact Saturday night I had prosciutto and melon as an antipasti followed by ham and Parmesan crepes. But then if you have a good thing I suppose the thing to do is flaunt it.Hanging HamsAnd of course the best of the best is culatello - that king of cured hams that I found so irresistible last year.
Once the skin and bone have been removed, the top part of the hind leg (with the lower part "Fiochetto" is produced) is salted still "warm", that is, right after slaughtering, and trussed with a spiral of string to give it the characteristic pear shape. Stored away, the Culatello is then massaged a few days later to aid salt penetration. It is given another period of rest in a cool room, and then the Culatello, until now still "naked", is enveloped in a pig bladder, which has been washed and dried, and tightly bound with string.

After all this manipulation, the Culatello is given needed rest in cellars with constant temperature and humidity for not less than 12 months; then it is "kept" in cool, humid underground rooms. Once matured, it can weigh from 3 to 5 kilos* with its
typical solid pear shape.

From G. TRANI: Elogio del Culatello. Il salume dei re tra storia,
letteratura e gastronomia. Bologna, Grafis, 1992.

A plate of porcine heavenNot more than an hour after arriving in Parma I headed over to a small piazza off Strada Garibaldi to see if they had set up the VerdiTaste tent this year. It was there but on a smaller scale and though the atmosphere was not as welcoming as last year the goodies on offer where. I just had to order a plate of the good stuff with some nicely aged Parmesan cheese, a few chunks of rustic bread and a glass of slightly effervescent Malvasia white. And I just want Dora to know I did it for her! That's what good friends do.Salami arbour
I couldn't resist taking a photo of this young lady and her mother as they enjoyed their plates of ham and cheese surrounded by an arbour of porcine products.

* A 4 kilo culatello is selling for approximately Euro 315.00 (CAD 479.00 USD 403.00)- cheap at half the price!!!!!

08 novembre - Santi Quattro coronati


flipstinger said...

droolin' here big time!
won't even try to search for that authentic Parma ham here in OZ'll prolly cost heaps of $$$!

evilganome said...

Mmmmmmmm..... ham. I have a real weakness for pork products up to and including black pudding. If I went to Parma, I'm not sure I'd ever be able to leave.

Doralong said...

You're a true friend to put yourself through such torture just for me Wills, really.

The pictures, I could just cry! Now I have the worst craving you can possibly imagine! But I still love you nonetheless..

Anonymous said...

The deli I work at carries prosciutto we have to slice it super thin and put paper between each slice. Sorry I don't care for it!

sageweb said...

Oh I am in heaven looking at those pics. You are such a tease.

more cowbell said...

OMG, you need a NSFV (not safe for vegetarians) icon. I have to go scrub my eyeballs now.