Fritto Misto – Mixed fried foods – Made in the USA

The final result os Fritto Misto made in the USA – Silviadc.

Many fish varieties usually included in a typical Italian Fritto Misto, especially shellfish, are not readily available in the USA. However, you can have a fritto misto without these ingredients. The images below illustrate the preparation of such a stir fry Fritto Misto made in Washington DC.

Zucchini blossoms from the Farmer’s market – Silviadc.

Ingredients

  • 6 zucchini blossoms
  • zucchini
  • calamari
  • eggplants
  • flour
  • milk
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • salt
Calamari cleaned, ready to be fried- Silviadc.

How to make Fritto Misto – Mixed fried foods – Made in the USA

Cut zucchini and eggplant into thick strips. Keep the zucchini blossoms and mushroom caps whole. Dip each piece into the beaten eggs, pat the food to get rid of excess flour, and set aside.

Zucchini blossoms are frying – Siviadc.

Fry each of the food separately, as they require different cooking times. When golden brown on both sides, remove from frying pan and place on paper towels.

For calamari and squid, use just flour.

How to make the Fried Zucchini Flowers

Mix the flour with two spoons of oil, white wine, egg yolk, salt, and pepper.

Add as much lukewarm water as needed to make a smooth batter that is not too thick. set aside to rest for half an hour. Meanwhile, clean the flowers, remove the pistil and stems. Whip the egg white and gently incorporate it into the batter. Dip the flowers in the batter, drain them and fry them in a large frying pan with plenty of hot oil. With the help of the perforated paddle, remove the fried flowers, dry them on absorbent paper, salt and serve immediately.

When all the frying is finished, arrange the various pieces of food on a serving platter. Salt to taste. Serve very hot.

Speed is of utmost importance in a fritto misto, and the amount will vary according to the number of people to be served. A good rule of thumb is always to use one piece of each kind of food for each person. Remember, for speed’s sake; you can also limit the types of food to include in fritto misto. The recipe can also vary according to seasonal food availability.

Leave Ben The Cat sleeping in the bedroom: he can be dangerous in the kitchen!

Insalata di tonno – Tuna salad

Ingredients

  • Canned Tuna – the best you can find and afford
  • Boiled potatoes
  • Green salad
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet onions
  • Boiled eggs
  • Boiled string beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Extra virgin Olive oil

How to make Insalata di tonno – Tuna salad

Put all the ingredients on a serving plate, add the tuna at the end, and sprinkle with the olive oil.

Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) – OAR/National Undersea Research Program (NURP) Pubblico Dominio

What tuna should you use, and why?

The tuna is the main ingredient and the centerpiece of this dish.

Choose the best tuna you can afford. As you can see from the picture, I choose “Ventresca di Tonno Rosso” by the Sicilian fishery Tre Torri.

Ben The Cat stealing my milk!

PLEASE: don’t even consider using tuna in water. As a minimum, it should be tuna in olive oil! Tuna in water is for Ben The Cat!

Ventresca di Tonno Rosso is the belly of the fish – known in Japan as toro. The fattiest cut has a creamy, velvety texture and minimal, typical canned tuna, with its dry, chalky texture and bland taste. The exquisite Mediterranean Bluefin Tuna or Tonno Rosso is full of fresh flavor and can be enjoyed right out of the can with a squeeze of lemon.

These Mediterranean Bluefin Tuna are never frozen. Instead, the entire production is done by hand; when the tuna arrives, it is butchered, and the cuts are selected and separated for ventresca, tarantello, and trancio. Then, it is boiled in small batches, cooled, and canned using local Sicilian olive oil and sea salt from Trapani.

Based in Erice, Conservificio Tre Torri continues to prepare tuna with artisanal methods generations old. Tre Torri produces a minimal quantity of canned tuna – about 88,000 pounds a year – which is the amount some industrial plants process in one day. Producing this way is very expensive, and the price of Tre Torri Tuna reflects the actual cost of this Mediterranean delicacy. Nevertheless, it is a Bluefin Tuna you can genuinely feel good about enjoying.

Their Bluefin Tuna is made by a minimal canning facility on the Sicilian west coast, in the town of Trapani. The company has been there for 60 years, and it is owned by Vito Torre, whose father was a fisherman and used to sell his fish in the open market of Trapani. Vito Torre tells me that his Tuna are caught off the coast of Sicily by small fishing boats that use methods passed along from the Arabs. Vito buys very few Tuna every year, and he processes them (steaming, salting, packing) only by hand. Vito’s production is minimal. He produces just a few hundred cans of 300 gr (10 oz) every year. The way they catch the fish is costly. The production process is all done by hand.

What about the price of this tuna? Is it worth it?

Yes, Ventresca di Tonno Rosso by the fishery Tre Torri IS expensive. BUT it would be best if you considered the cost of a lunch or dinner at a nice Japanese restaurant, where you would pay more for the same or similar tuna served as sushi or sashimi.

With one can of “Ventresca di Tonno Rosso” by the fishery Tre Torri in Sicily, you can prepare three generous servings of Insalata di tonno – Tuna salad. After all, you end up saving money compared to going to a Japanese restaurant!

Gustiamo.com sells online Ventresca di Tonno Rosso in North America.

Pomodori e mozzarella – Mozzarella and tomatoes in the USA

A serving of Mozzarella and Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • Tomatoes
  • Mozzarella di Bufala della Campania
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

How to make Pomodori e mozzarella – Mozzarella and tomatoes

The preparation is very simple, easy, and strathforward.

Slice the tomatoes in thick slices.

Put them on a plate, with a slice of mozzarella di bufala on top.

Dress with extra virgin olive oil and serve.

The shape of the tomatoes from the Farmer’s market can be irregular: it’s how they taste that counts!

What do you need to make a perfect Pomodori e mozzarella

  • 1 – the tomatoes are better if they come from the farmer’s market. The tomatoes available in most USA supermarkets have been grown for their look, not for how they taste.
  • 2 – make sure that the mozzarella di bufala comes from the Campania region of Italy: there is a sale of mozzarella produced in the South American Andes in many supermarkets. While it’s not bad at all, it’s not the same. You cannot compare the two. For example, three supermarket chains sell South American buffalo mozzarella in the DC area where I live. Only one specialty store (that I am aware of) sells the real Buffalo mozzarella from Campania: Rodman’s.
  • 3 – Use ONLY extra virgin olive oil. The quality of the oil is paramount to the success of this simple dish. The better is the oil, the better the dish. As you can see from the picture, I used “Antichi Uliveti del Prato,” a specialty extra virgin olive oil produced in Sardinia by a small farm. It is available in North America online from Gustiamo.com. Its exquisite taste enhances the dish, but any excellent extra virgin olive oil would be acceptable.
Campaia Bufalo – Stephen Sommerhalter CC BY 3.0

Mozzarella di bufala della Campania : Why?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Buffalo mozzarella (Italian: mozzarella di bufala; Neapolitan: muzzarella ‘e vufera) is a mozzarella made from the milk of Italian Mediterranean buffalo. It is a dairy product traditionally manufactured in Campania, especially in the provinces of Caserta and Salerno.

The term mozzarella derives from the procedure called mozzare, which means “cutting by hand,” separating from the curd, and serving in individual pieces, that is, the process of separation of the curd into small balls. It is appreciated for its versatility and elastic texture and is often called “the queen of the Mediterranean cuisine,” “white gold,” or “the pearl of the table.”

The buffalo mozzarella sold as Mozzarella di Bufala Campana has been granted the status of Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC – “Controlled designation of origin”) since 1993. Since 1996 it is also protected under the EU’s Protected Designation of Origin or DOP Denominazione di Origine Protetta scheme. The protected origin’s appellation requires that it may only be produced with a traditional recipe in select locations in the regions of Campania, Lazio, Apulia, and Molise.

Mozzarella di Bufala della Campania – Popo le Chien CC BY-SA 3.0

History in Italy

The history of water buffalo in Italy is not settled. One theory is that Asian water buffalo were brought to Italy by Goths during the migrations of the early medieval period. However, according to the Consorzio per la Tutela del Formaggio Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, the “most likely hypothesis” is that Normans introduced them from Sicily in 1000 and that Arabs had introduced them into Sicily. The Consorzio per la Tutela also refers to fossil evidence (the prehistoric European Water Buffalo, Bubalus murrensis) suggesting that water buffalo may have originated in Italy. A fourth theory is that water buffalo were brought from Mesopotamia into the Near East by Arabs and then introduced into Europe by pilgrims and returning crusaders.

“In ancient times, the buffalo was a familiar sight in the countryside, since it was widely used as a draught animal in plowing compact and watery terrains, both because of its strength and the size of its hooves, which do not sink too deeply into moist soils.”

References to cheese products made from water buffalo milk appeared for the first time at the beginning of the twelfth century. Buffalo mozzarella became widespread throughout the south of Italy from the second half of the eighteenth century, before which it had been produced only in small quantities.

Production in and around Naples was briefly interrupted during World War II when retreating German troops slaughtered the area’s water buffalo herds. They recommenced a few years after the armistice was signed.

Intingolo per Polenta

Polenta and Intingolo prepared by my daughter

Ingredients

  • Ribs
  • bouillon cube
  • Peeled tomatoes
  • sage
  • 2 minced types of meat
  • oil
  • onion
  • dried mushrooms
  • 2 carrots
  • garlic
  • 2 celery
  • sausage
  • wine (white or red)

How to prepare the intingolo

  1. Fry the vegetables
  2. Put the meat in until it changes color
  3. One glass of wine and let it evaporate
  4. One glass of water, crushed, peeled tomatoes, and stock cube

How to serve the intingolo

We serve the intingolo on top of a polenta serving,

Pici

Pesto Pici by Liliana and Mia

Pesto is not a traditional condiment used for pici in the home provinces of Siena and Montalcino. Still, Siena is only a two-hour drive from La Spezia, and pici is a convenient and simple recipe for homemade pasta to be dressed with a good pesto.
Hundreds of years of history have passed. The two hundred kilometers of distance between the two cities have consolidated historical differences. But, especially if you live in places as far away as the USA, forget about the remnants of history, and prepare a recipe that, replacing the traditional Genovese trofie with the Tuscan pici, is simple to make, as demonstrated by my two 15-year-old granddaughters, Liliana and Mia.

From wikipedia the free enciclopedy

Pici (Italian: [ˈpiːtʃi]; locally [ˈpiːʃi]) is thick, hand-rolled pasta, like fat spaghetti. It originates in Siena in Tuscany; in the Montalcino area, they are also referred to as pinci(Italian: [ˈpintʃi]).

The dough is typically made from flour and water only. The addition of eggs is optional, being determined by family traditions. Alternatively, finely chopped or shredded spinach can be used in place of water.

Liliana and Mia making pici in the USA

The dough is rolled out in a thick flat sheet, then cut into strips. In some families, the strip of dough is rolled between one palm and the table, while the other hand is wrapped with the rest of the strip. It can also be formed by rolling the strip between the palms. Either method forms a thick pasta, slightly thinner than a common pencil. Unlike spaghetti or macaroni, this pasta is not uniform in size and has variations of thickness along its length.

It is eaten with a variety of foods, particularly:

Food categoryItalianEnglish
saucesbriciolebreadcrumbs
aglionespicy garlic tomato sauce
boscaiolaporcini mushrooms
cacio e pepecheese and black pepper
ragùa meat-based sauce
game meatcinghialewild boar
leprehare
anatraduck

Bresaola in the USA – Be careful!

Bresaola is a great product of the mountains of Lombardia, of the province of Sondrio. Here you find a description.

Original Bresaola della Valtellina is NOT available in the USA. Outdated regulations still prevent its importation from the province of Sondrio, Italy, where it is made and perfected.

Even in this case, you can find very good bresaola, made in Uruguay, or with meat from Uruguay, usually by mountain pastors that emigrated from Valtellina to South America several decades ago searching for better pastures to breed cows and settled in Uruguay and Brazil.

They are now providing beef meat to the Italian manufacturers of bresaola in Sondrio and manufacture their bresaola.

Where and how to buy bresaola in the USA

Bresaola is available in specialty Italian stores, and they slice it for you when you buy it. Be careful: it’s not a product in high demand and could be sitting for months on the shelves, making its taste bitter.

A better choice is buying a pre-packaged confection such as the one sold by Citterio and available at the store or online at Wegmans, among other chain stores. Experienced people do the slicing at a central location, and the packaging is in a nitrogen neutralized atmosphere that guarantees freshness until you open the package. One of the problems with small stores slicing the whole product for you – being bresaola, prosciutto, or salami, is that in the USA, there are few store clerks able to cut the products properly. So other companies prepare and sell bresaola in a similar way.

Should you be ordering online from Wegmans, be careful to specify “no substitutes” in your order for bresaola. Once I did not, I received a lower quality anonymous product, not wrong, but not as good as the original I expected.

Other online sellers of presliced bresaola include Brooklyn Cured, Marky’s, and Gourmet Food Store. Unfortunately, I can’t testify about the quality of this bresaola because I never tasted them. Salumeria Italiana in Boston instead slices the bresaola for you at the moment when you place your order and ship it 2-day air in one-pound packages.

How to best enjoy bresaola in the USA

Bresaola is the best way to enjoy the taste of a beautiful extra virgin olive oil. Don’t spare on the quality of the oil you are using; exceptional flavors will reveal when you will eat a simple dish of bresaola with lemon and olive oil. I used Vicopisano Extra Virgin Olive Oil for the photo above; it’s available at a reasonable price in North America from Gustiamo.com.

The drying process in the cold air coming to Valtellina from Switzerland across the Alps

The drying process in mountain locations in Valtellina, generally at 1,000 meters high sites, is what makes generic bresaola “Bresaola della Valtellina.”

Bresaola produced elsewhere can be equally good, but it usually lacks the special taste.

Bresaola della Valtellina P.G.I. – The regulations governing its manufacturing

From 1996 the original Bresaola della Valtellina is a product guaranteed by the PGI community trademark, exclusively used by certified producers of Provincia di Sondrio that strictly follow the disciplinary code of production.
Consorzio di Tutela Bresaola della Valtellina guarantees the origin of this tasteful product, promotes the original trademark, and protects it from imitations and falsifications.

Production Regulations for the “Bresaola della Valtellina” Protected Geographical Indication.

Art. 3 | Raw materials
“Bresaola della Valtellina” is produced exclusively from meat obtained from cattle between 18 months and four years of age. “Bresaola della Valtellina”, in its different cuts, is obtained starting from boneless bovine thighs and, more specifically, from the following meat cuts and muscles:

  •  Topside
    which corresponds to the posteromedial portion of the thigh muscles and includes the internal rectus, the adductor, and semimembranosus muscles;
  •  Topside Without Cap
    which corresponds to the topside without the adductor muscle;
  • Silverside
    which corresponds to the posterolateral portion of the thigh, the muscle involved is the vastus longuus;
  • Eye round
    which corresponds to the posterolateral portion of the thigh muscles, the muscle involved is the semitendinosus muscle;
  • Knuckle
    which corresponds to the front of the thigh and is composed of the rectus, the vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius muscles.

Only top-quality, safe and controlled meat, chosen all around the world as an excellent product

For Bresaola della Valtellina PGI, certified producers select and use the best bovine meat, a top-quality choice that makes it a unique product in the world and one of the Italian excellence products. Credit goes to the experience acquired over a centuries-old tradition and to the safety guaranteed by the PGI Regulations.

Only top-category cuts are used for the production of Bresaola della Valtellina PGI. The selected cuts are highly valuable and tender, and they are only cut from the beef round of selected breeds of cattle – preferably free-range cattle fed with selected feeds – of 18 months to 4 years of age, as outlined in the Regulations (therefore excluding cow meat, which is dark and does not reach the required level of consistency).

It is a top-quality choice because all these factors – cattle breed and age, breeding system and feeds, choice of high-value cuts of the beef round (such as topside without cup) – contribute to ensuring better meat, both in terms of organoleptic characteristics (e.g. for consistency, tenderness, taste, color, leanness, and absence of nerves), and of nutritional properties (e.g. for a lower fat content).

Producers joining the Consortium mainly use meat from European and South American farms, where breeding systems and supervision of all phases of the supply chain guarantee a raw material that meets the high-quality standards required for the production of Bresaola della Valtellina PGI. The best bovine breeds are used to obtain lean and high-consistency cuts according to the Regulations and the centuries-old tradition. Among European breeds, we favor Charolaise, Limousine, Blonde d’Aquitaine and Garonnesi. Among Italian breeds, the Piedmontese.
Pure zebu breeds come from South America. Among them, the Zebu Nellore is outstanding for its very lean meat. As a result, it is the most common breed in large Brazilian farms. But, then, there are the Zebu Guzerat and the Brahman, accounting for a minimum of South American cattle.

PGI is the guarantee of a product that is controlled and verified throughout its processing. During the processing of Bresaola della Valtellina PGI, numerous checks are performed on the various steps of the supply chain to guarantee consumers a safe and top-quality product. Furthermore, a third-party inspection body verifies compliance with the Production Regulations (CSQA Certificazioni), authorized by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food, and Forestry Policies. Therefore, when we taste Bresaola della Valtellina PGI, we know that it is the result of the best choice of raw materials, guaranteed by full traceability of the production chain and a processing protocol approved by the supervisory authority. Furthermore, its implementation is verified by a third-party certification body.

Chicken milanese in the USA

My 15 year old granddaughter Mia preparing “Nonno’s chicken by Mia”

This dish is known in my family as “Nonno’s chicken” because I perfected its execution, resisting the requests to lower the oil temperature: you need it very hot!

Now my 15 year old granddaughter Mia learned how to prepare it, and, therefore we call it “Nonno’s chicken by Mia“. Here what you need to prepare it:

Ingredients:

  • chicken breasts
  • one or two eggs
  • bread crumbs – PLAIN not flavored!
  • vegetable oil
  • lemon slices

Preparation:

  • Beat the eggs in one dish
  • Slice the chicken very thin
  • Prepare the bread crumbs in a second dish
  • Pass the chicken in the beaten eggs
  • Pass them in the bread crumbs
  • Heat the oil very hot
  • Put the chicken in the hot oil, and cook it until they are colored
  • Take out and put on a plate covered with paper that will absorb the oil
  • Serve with a side of lemon slices

Alternative preparation

An alternative often presented in recipes present on the web uses butter instead of oil. However, in my opinion, and experience, it gives a lower quality result because the butter doesn’t reach the same high temperature available with the oil. Therefore it cannot be called “Nonno’s chicken“!

6 slices of chicken breast of about 70 g each
3 yolks
1 egg white
1 tablespoon grated cheese
breadcrumbs
80 g butter
nutmeg
salt

How to make Chicken Milanese

In a large bowl, cream the three egg yolks with the egg white, add the grated cheese, a pinch of salt and a pinch of nutmeg.

Lightly beat the slices of breast, season with a pinch of salt and immediately pass them in the egg cream and then in the breadcrumbs, which must be very fine. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and when hot, place the chicken breasts in it. Fry them over high heat for a few minutes on both sides, turn them a couple of times and remove them when golden brown to prevent them from hardening. Dry on absorbent paper towels.

Regional recipe of Lombardy – imported to the USA

Italian salami MADE IN THE USA!

Italian salami made in the USA – The history

The salami that tastes as it came from the old country made the old way. And in a way, it did, via San Francisco. That’s where producers make some of the best Italian salami sold in America.

A curious war made San Francisco the salami capital of America. From 1967 until 1970, a band of six determined Bay Area sausage makers argued to the U.S. Department of Agriculture that they deserved the right to not only use Italian methods but to call their product “Italian salami.” They were direct descendants of salami makers of Milan, Lucca, Parma, and Modena. Around the turn of the last century, they had settled in a city whose temperate climate might be the only one in the United States perfectly suited for dry-curing salami. They even had the right strain of penicillin mold to give the links a classic white bloom.

Sure, the Italian Americans wanted to keep a corner of meat processing to themselves, to prevent producers of cooked meat and fast-cured imitations from using the term. But at the heart of the argument was a pleasure.

The San Franciscans were intent on saving a revered delicacy from a fate worse than nonsense. Italian salami, they contended, is a food every bit as noble as cheese or wine. Looking back, it seems evident that the Bay Area salami makers were Slow Foodists of their day. At the heart of their argument, they insisted that real salami could not achieve quickly, or by cooking the sausages like hot dogs, or in a short hanging period, or by spiking the meat with unique flavorings.

In letter after letter to bleary USDA officials, they outlined the echt way to make it, the way, more or less, Italians had made it since the 5th century BC. Salami must consist mainly of pork and fat, they said. This pork should come from the shoulder (haunches go-to ham), with large chunks of fat that won’t melt. This meat must be chopped, never pureed like a hot dog emulsion. It could be combined with wine, garlic, pepper, curing salts, maybe a touch of mace.

They used a lactic acid starter to start a slow fermentation that would dry-cook the product. Dried milk was permissible as a binding agent between the meat and fat. They could then pack the meat into either cellulose or pork-gut casing. These sausages were then hung, first in drip rooms, then in aging rooms, for weeks, or months, depending on the chub’s size.

They stressed that the optimum range of curing temperatures was the same as San Francisco’s temperate climate. As the salami dried, the links fermented, and a change in acidity effectively cooked the meat and produced the complex spectrum of flavors. As this happened, the sausages would also dry. The meat would lose roughly 30% of its water weight. A penicillin mold would form on the coat, checking the meat’s exposure to air, thus stopping oxidation and preventing rancid flavors.

To press their case, the San Franciscans hired a lawyer. They formed something called the Dry Salami Institute. They prepared detailed family histories, paraded ribbons from salami competitions in Rome, and bombarded bureaucrats with long letters with even longer appendixes to the utter authenticity of their every salami-stuffing step. And, reader, they prevailed. Find the words “Italian salami” or “Italian Dry Salami” on a California chub, and you are guaranteed food that at least tries to hold its own in Italy.

Today the same Californian producers successfully lobby to maintain the prehistoric, archaic FDA regulations against import of original “made in Italy” salami. They joined in the effort by big Italian salami producers that have opened up factories in the USA to circumvent the FDA rules and deliver a “mass-market” product to the American supermarkets.

Finally, the real stuff is coming to the USA!

From 2014 on, the United States opened the frontiers of semi-manufactured salami made in Italy, such as salami, bacon, cups, and culatelli. The freeway has come from the Aphis (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) authorities that have officially recognized the Lombard, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, and Piedmont regions, as well as the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano, free from swine vesicular disease.

Check that the product you are buying has the text “Product of Italy.”

Making Polenta in the USA

A communal polenta celebration party in Chamois, Aosta Valley

Polenta is a big part of the communal celebrations in the Aosta Valley. The locals host these parties to celebrate summer with their visiting tourist guests.

It takes hours of slow cooking on a wood fire to properly prepare a classical polenta in a copper pot.

If you think this is too difficult to do in the USA, IT IS!!!

There is now an easier way out: the INSTANT POLENTA, ready in just 3 minutes, a success with Italian cooks is available in this country too! You put it in a pot of boiling water, and it cooks in just three minutes.

There is also a different alternative, already cooked and prepackaged in rolls: don’t fall for it, it’s very different from the real original stuff, and it’s simply not worth it.

The last time I made Polenta on a wood fire in a hut in the Italian Alps. Romantic memories!

Parma Salame di Felino DOP – Parma Salami Felino DOP

Salami Felino DOP – Lungoleno CC BY-SA 4.0

Veroni sells online the only Original Salami Felino D.O.P. in the USA!

Since 1925, the Veroni family has been handcrafting salami in the northern hills of Italy. Four generations have upheld the same original recipes of gourmet mortadella, artisanally roasted hams, and slowly aged salami!

Many US companies have tried to replicate the King of Salami, but now we can have the real Felino D.O.P. from Parma by Veroni!

14 ounce (397 gram) – WEIGHT APPROXIMATES

Ingredients: Pork, sea salt, sugar, black pepper,
Packaging: Vacuum-sealed Plastic
Region: Parma
Product of Italy

Bringing Italian Salami while traveling from Italy

Cured hams (prosciutto, Serrano ham, Iberian ham) and salami from areas within France, Germany, Italy, and Spain may not be brought into the United States by travelers. These items may only enter commercial shipments because special restrictions are requiring additional certification and documentation.

Italian salami made in the USA – The history

The salami that tastes as it came from the old country made the old way. And in a way, it did, via San Francisco. That’s where producers make some of the best Italian salami sold in America.

A curious war made San Francisco the salami capital of America. From 1967 until 1970, a band of six determined Bay Area sausage makers argued to the U.S. Department of Agriculture that they deserved the right to not only use Italian methods but to call their product “Italian salami.” They were direct descendants of salami makers of Milan, Lucca, Parma, and Modena. Around the turn of the last century, they had settled in a city whose temperate climate might be the only one in the United States perfectly suited for dry-curing salami. They even had the right strain of penicillin mold to give the links a classic white bloom.

Sure, the Italian Americans wanted to keep a corner of meat processing to themselves to prevent producers of cooked meat and fast-cured imitations from using the term. But at the heart of the argument was a pleasure.

The San Franciscans were intent on saving a revered delicacy from a fate worse than nonsense. Italian salami, they contended, is a food every bit as noble as cheese or wine. Looking back, it seems evident that the Bay Area salami makers were Slow Foodists of their day. At the heart of their argument, they insisted that authentic salami could not achieve quickly, cooking sausages like hot dogs, or in a short hanging period, or by spiking the meat with unique flavorings.

In letter after letter to bleary USDA officials, they outlined the echt way to make it, the way, more or less, Italians had made it since the 5th century BC. Salami must consist mainly of pork and fat, they said. This pork should come from the shoulder (haunches go-to ham), with large chunks of fat that won’t melt. This meat must be chopped, never pureed like a hot dog emulsion. It could be combined with wine, garlic, pepper, curing salts, maybe a touch of mace.

They used a lactic acid starter to start a slow fermentation that would dry-cook the product. Dried milk was permissible as a binding agent between the meat and fat. They could then pack the meat into either cellulose or pork-gut casing. These sausages were then hung, first in drip rooms, then in aging rooms, for weeks, or months, depending on the chub’s size.

They stressed that the optimum range of curing temperatures was the same as San Francisco’s temperate climate. As the salami dried, the links fermented, and a change in acidity effectively cooked the meat and produced the complex spectrum of flavors. As this happened, the sausages would also dry. The meat would lose roughly 30% of its water weight. A penicillin mold would form on the coat, checking the meat’s exposure to air, thus stopping oxidation and preventing rancid flavors.

To press their case, the San Franciscans hired a lawyer. They formed something called the Dry Salami Institute. They prepared detailed family histories, paraded ribbons from salami competitions in Rome, and bombarded bureaucrats with long letters with even longer appendixes to the utter authenticity of their every salami-stuffing step. And, reader, they prevailed. Find the words “Italian salami” or “Italian Dry Salami” on a California chub, and you are guaranteed food that at least tries to hold its own in Italy.

Today the same Californian producers successfully lobby to maintain the prehistoric, archaic FDA regulations against the import of original “made in Italy” salami. They joined in the effort by big Italian salami producers that have opened up factories in the USA to circumvent the FDA rules and deliver a “mass-market” product to the American supermarkets.

Finally, the real stuff is coming to the USA!

From 2014 on, the United States opened the frontiers of semi-manufactured salami made in Italy, such as salami, bacon, cups, and culatelli. The freeway has come from the Aphis (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) authorities that have officially recognized the Lombard, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, and Piedmont regions and the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano, free from swine vesicular disease.

Check that the product you are buying has the text “Product of Italy.”

books-on-italy.com

books-on-italy.com

books-on-italy.com