I certainly am not an internationally known chef and I am by no means an expert on modern ‘nouvelle cuisine’ or other French culinary terms, but family and friends do consider me as being a good cook; a good “Bolognese” cook!
By means of this blog I wish to share our best family recipes with whoever is interested in doing so, as well as humbly “teaching” any potentially interested “student” all I have learned in terms of Italian cooking from my mamma Antonia.
Cooking has always been a passion in our family, as in most – if not all – Italian families, as a matter of fact. My mother, Antonia, was an excellent cook and so was her father (my grandpa Celso) before her. My great grandfather Picio and my great grandmother Zaina excelled not only in the kitchen but also in making their own salami, coppa, prosciutto and pancetta!
I remember listening to mamma tell us all about the excitement and the efforts involved in slaughtering the pig (pcarìa) back in the 1930’s; she was just a young girl back then, but she told us that everyone was expected to do their part, children included!
Her part (and my aunt Teresas’ part) consisted in washing and thoroughly cleaning the pigs’ guts in wine vinegar; these would later be stuffed with a mixture of ground pork, salt, pepper, garlic and red wine to form excellent salamis and sausages! This was, of course, one of the last operations to be carried out; in fact the very first thing to do was ….slaughter the pig! My great grandfather was in charge of doing this, and mamma said that even though she liked eating salami very much, the idea of ending the pigs’ life always brought her a little sadness. My great grandfather Picio was very quick with his knife however, and it is said that the pig hardly suffered at all (somehow I doubt that the pig would have been of the same opinion).
The pig (approx 400-450 lbs!) was then doused with boiling water until the bristles came off. The thick skin (cotenna) of the beast was scrubbed with sturdy brushes and scraped with razor sharp knives until sparkling clean and bristle free. My great grandfather and my grandfather would then start to divide the pig into sections; the front and back legs were left whole (back legs would be cured and turned into wonderful prosciutto and the front legs would be turned into zampone) and the rest of the meat was divided into several parts. Most of the meat would be ground for making salami and sausage but there would also be whole pieces of meat for making: coppa, pancetta (the Italian version of bacon), the head (coppa di testa) and chunks of fat which would be turned into ciccioli.
To this day, the slaughtering of pigs for making cold cuts is still a very popular tradition on the whole Italian territory. Our family still takes pride in doing so, and the salami and prosciutto my husband and son produce every year are absolutely wonderful!