Italian Cured Meat Overview
You say Salame, we say Salumi
Salame, salumi. What's the difference?
Salame is one type of cured meat, while salumi just means cured meats. In Italy, the art of
making cured meats is called salumeria. A salumeria is also the name of the place where
salumi are sold, like an Italian delicatessen. Because each region or each town or even
each family has its own recipes for cured meats, there is an almost infinite variety of
salumi. As for commercially produced salumi in Italy, one estimate puts the number at 600
different kinds. At Olio&Olive, we have carefully chosen a delicious sampling of the best
specialty meats Italy has to offer.
The salumi are all distinctly different in taste, color, and texture. They are made from
different parts of the hogs or cattle. They are from different terroirs. They graze in lush
valleys or on mountain slopes. They are imbued with the crispness of alpine air, or the
smoky aroma of fine woods. They are whole legs or shanks. They have the bone in, or the
bone has been removed. They are ground to a delicate purée or chopped into chunks.
They are cured for a long time or a short time. They are lightly or pungently spiced.
But the salumi have one thing in common: they all begin by being minimally salted. Some
are dry salted, like prosciutto, which has the salt rubbed into it gradually. Others are
bathed in brine. After that, they acquire more flavor by being smoked, air dried, steamed,
or baked. Or a combination of several methods, which produces a much deeper flavor.
What they also have in common are the centuries or even millennia of expertise that go
into making them. And don't forget the higher standards for food in Italy. Many of these
meats are protected Italian foods, called DOP. This means that the breed of the hog or
cattle, as well as the feed and the processing, are all carefully controlled by law.
The integrity of Italian meat products is unrivaled.