CHIUSDINO, Italy– The diagram started as a rough outline. Just a snout, two little ears, a big belly supported by four legs and a corkscrew tail. Looking at this sketch, many would see just that. A sketch of a pig. But here at Spannocchia, this sketch represents much more.
One by one, each part of the pig was circled and labeled. The face, the neck, the back, the lower belly and the hind legs. Each of these parts produces six very different, but equally delicious, meats. Today, our group of food writers had the pleasure of tasting each one.
Jessica Haden, director of intern education for Spannocchia, encouraged us to feel and smell each piece of salumi, before we took our first bites. We started with the lardo, not to be confused with lard. This piece comes from the back fat of the pig. Pure white in color and tender, on a hot day this piece just seems to melt in your mouth.
Next came the pancetta. A piece taken from the lower belly that closely resembles an American breakfast staple. But unlike bacon, pancetta is neither smoked nor served in the early morning hours. Instead, it is peppered and cured to perfection – very different from the bacon back home, but just as tasty.
Then there was the capocollo. This is meat taken from the neck of the pig and enhanced with natural herb flavors.
Finally we arrived at everyone’s favorite part – prosciutto. The perfect combination of sweet and salty taken from the hind leg of the pig. The wonderful flavor of prosciutto and its longer curing process is reflected in its higher price.
The last two meats we tried, salame and soppressata, are on the more affordable end of the spectrum. They were mostly made up of leftover parts, such as the cheeks and smaller pieces of fat, and topped off with a peppery kick.
From nose to tail, each part was surprisingly delicious.