Silky folds of ham, cured to a blushing pink run wild through my mind frequently throughout the day. That’s why I make sure to carve out some time in the afternoon to sneak away back into the kitchen to steal just one more velvety piece of cured meat.
Will I eat prosciutto everyday in quarantine? I might. And who’s going to stop me? No one, except maybe my ever-shrinking jeans, but that’s precisely why I packed loads of leggings and stretchy pants.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Italian prosciutto hits differently. And I’m not talking about the prosciutto that you get at the Italian specialty stores back home in Canada. I’m talking Italian ham produced and sold in Italy, straight from the source. It’s nothing short of a magical experience. It’s a salty, blissful moment of indulgence as soon as the ham hits your lips. It’s like being blessed by the meat gods, if such a thing existed.
To what do I attribute this incredibly sultry ham? The Italian way of life and the notion of Slow Food with respect to what we put into our bodies. Like most globalized places of the world, Italy isn’t perfect (despite what I tend to argue), but they do view food differently. I think that most countries (European and beyond, with the exception of the melting pot that’s North America) have a stronger sense of gastronomic culture and that directly affects how food is processed and desired by consumers. Farming and creating food and drink is a labour of love, something that I tend think is harder to come by back home in North America.
When I take a bite of freshly sliced prosciutto from the butcher at my local supermarket in Bra, it’s fresh, rich, and distinctly earthy. It’s reminiscent of when I ventured off to a prosciutto factory in Parma where the ham melted like butter on the palate. When I close my eyes and taste the Italian prosciutto, I can see happy, plump pigs freely munching on acorns and grasses. I taste the sweet earthiness, qualities that render it distinctly Italian.
A lovely little story like how piggy goes to graze helps me to connect the dots from farm to table, which is in part my obsession with Italian prosciutto. I have a stronger appreciation of the ham because I believe in how it was passed on to me, which alters my tasting experience into a thing of beauty.
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Can you taste the difference between your favourite culinary staples when you travel abroad? What’s the most shocking difference you’ve noted?