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How to Use and Serve Italian Cured Meats

One of the hottest current trends in the U.S. is to add flavor to food by putting bacon in it
or on it. Americans think they invented this yesterday. There is no bacon in Italy, but
Italians have been using PANCETTA and GUANCIALE (gwan-CHAH-lay) to flavor foods for
centuries.
Pancetta is made from pork belly. Guanciale, from the jowl, has a stronger flavor than
pancetta. It is cured with salt, pepper, and rosemary. A bit of pancetta or guanciale
sautéed in olive oil is the basis for many sauces and soups. This is why American-made
tomato sauce is missing the complexity and depth that pancetta provides in true Italian
sauces. A little bit of either goes a long way toward improving flavor and imparting
authenticity.

The Search for Santo Prosciutto
Years ago, the New Yorker magazine's famous food writer, Calvin Trillin, wrote about a
utopia. It grew out of his love for Italian food. It was a sunny island in the Caribbean,
settled by Italians. The spaghetti puttanesca was perfect. Garlic grew on the hillsides. The
tomatoes and basil were fresh; the cheese locally made. He called his utopia Santo
Prosciutto.
You can create your own Santo Prosciutto. Mix and match a few slices of our cured meats
with wedges of our Italian cheeses, a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add some
olives, roasted vegetables or salad, crusty Italian bread, and a glass of wine. Even if it's
winter, it will feel like Italian summer. And remember, you never need a passport to go to
Santo Prosciutto.