You will find salumerie (small goods shop) decked with all types of salame
This is a photo in Tropea, Calabria. See what I mean?
Many Australian-Italian families get together during winter for salami making . Once made, the salami are hung to ferment and age in cool dry spaces and usually in insulated home garages.
In Australia, salame has become very well-liked. There are stalls of salame at almost every Farmers’ Market, courses for making salame, competitions and fairs. There are an ever- increasing number of various salami made by artisans, butchers and many made at home. And what may surprise some of us, is that just like passata makers, many salumi (smallgoods) makers are now from a non- Italian background.
Salame (and types of mettwurst) are also made in Southern, Eastern and Central Europe and I have eaten excellent salame in Hungary, France, Germany and in Spain.
In a Farmers’ Market in Lancefield a little while ago I bought a salame. Lancefield is a small town in the Victorian Shire of Macedon Ranges (about an hour’s drive from Melbourne).
What first caught my eye was the display board in front of the stall listing the types of salame for sale.
I burst out laughing and the young assistant behind the stall knew exactly why I laughed and why I bought the salame called Brucia Culo:
Brucia = burn, Culo = bum and you guessed it, it was hot.
She told me her father was the person who was the bespoke butcher of the range of salami on offer and he had named them all. Clever man!
The salame tasted terrific and we could not wait to eat it so we took it with a loaf of bread, local extra virgin olive oil and some heritage tomatoes to Macedon National Park for a picnic, and practically ate all of the salame there and then.
You may have noticed that in Australia salame is now an essential ingredient on platters that offer salumi on menus.
Salame (and types of mettwurst) are also popular in other countries – Southern, Eastern and Central Europe and I have eaten some excellent salame in Hungary and in Spain.
All Italians love salame and I am not stereotyping when I say this. Each region of Italy has particular DOP favourites and at least 113 different types of salami have been identified.
I have many photos of salami and salumerie ( shops that specialize in smallgoods) taken all over Italy; I never take photos unless I make a purchase (an Italian thing!) so you can imagine how much salame I have eaten all over Italy! The photo above was taken in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol.
The photo below was taken in Tuscany. The salame is likely to be all local.
Salame can be coarse-grained or have a fine texture, or cut by hand, seasoned for a few days or several months; have a firm or soft texture and some are even spreadable. They can be lean or high in fat, some have fat pieces that remain much thicker and evident when sliced. Some are flavoured with pepper, garlic, chilli or fennel seed, some are marinaded in wine while others are spiced with secret ingredients. Various parts of the animal is used and although pork is the most common ingredient, there are salami made with duck, deer, wild boar, goose.
The above photo was taken in Lombardy.
In Ferrara in Emilia-Romagna, I had Salama da sugo, a bulbous salame that is eaten cooked.
In Abbruzzo I have eaten salamini (small sausage sized) that were kept in jars and they were covered with olive oil to keep them moist. what made them even more special was that I bought them from a road-side stall.
In Calabria I went to the evocative Serre Mountains of Serra San Bruno in the Province of Vibo Valentia in Calabria, and ate one made with wild boar. It tasted marvellous. this was followed by lunch at the restaurant by the Carthusian Monastery where every course contained porcini in some form or another.
Living in Trieste as a child, the Veneto salame was one of the favoured ones. I now find that the Veneto can be particularly fatty and is not always one of my favourites.
In Piedmont and in Tyrol I had a cooked salame. These are usually made with pork and veal or young beef. The texture reminded me of cotechino.
In Loxton, in the Riverland of South Australia, I ate a very delicious home-made version that had chilli on the inside and flakes all around the outside – this was the mechanism used to keep the flies off.
The people who made this were Calabresi and this is not surprising as in Calabria they like a bit of chilli… think of ‘Nduja.
This spreadable salame is fairly hot!
In 2020 I did not travel but in1919, I spent quite a bit of time in Tuscany especially in the Maremma and I really enjoyed the wild boar versions of salame. I also liked a particular salame called the Cinata Senese especially popular in the province of Siena and throughout the Tuscan territory. The Cinata Senese breed of pork was in danger of extinction but is making a comeback; it is especially favoured by the smaller artisan producers.
Perhaps the most unusual salame I have eaten was one made with asino (ass) in Sicily, a specialty of the region of Ragusa. I also was invited to a BBQ where I ate ass meat – light, delicate and succulent.
For photos of salame made with ass meat in Sicily see post below: