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.And 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.
Not 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.
* 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