Buon anno, a tutti!
What a great time to travel to Italy!
The exchange rate for the US dollar to the euro
is at its best in over 10 years at $1.16
, and all indications point to lower air fares
for spring and fall travel. Why not make this the year you join us in Tuscany? Our culinary tour
was voted one of the TOP 10 Trips to Take that will Teach You Something
and for that we are so thankful. (Click to read!
We wish that your new year be filled with
joy, peace and love. And lots of good food!Buon Appetito!
Gina and Mary
Years ago in Tuscany and most of Italy, before fresh meat was readily available for purchase in the grocery store or a butcher shop, fresh meat was rare on the common dinner table. Roasted and braised meats or grilled steaks were only available during the hunting season or in the winter when the pigs were butchered.
The rest of the year it was vegetables, bread and pasta, and the protein options were cured meats like salami
, with the occasion chicken
for Sunday dinner and special occasions.
January and the winter months were traditionally the time that the pigs were slaughtered, when the cold weather would keep the meat from spoiling before it had a chance to begin to cure. Hams
were salted and laid down to become prosciutto
head was boiled in spices and lemon and picked over to be made into soppressata
. All the rest was chopped and ground to be made into sausages
, cured in olive oil, or salami
, mixed with fennel, garlic and black pepper.
All that is still done, but in modern, temperature controlled facilities on a year round basis. The seasonality of the pig slaughter has mostly disappeared and with it the appreciation of the rarity of a great chunk of roasted loin, shoulder or pork belly.
During my first winter in Tuscany
, one of my most exciting discoveries was roasted pork belly
, or pancetta fresca arrosto
. To me, the best part of roasted pork was always the fat
on the outside, and the cuts had become so lean and dry in the US it had lost its appeal. But all that fat
, hot and roasted, with the skin brown and crunchy
, was sheer heaven
Click here for recipe and finish reading...