In a warm coffee shop, while he sipped espresso (very Italian) and I hot chocolate, Marc introduced us to the ins and outs of one of Italy’s most adored salumeria (air cured meat) – Prosciutto. For the next hour and a half my husband and I were totally immersed in the details of production, provenance and regional tastes.
The word prosciutto comes from the Latin perexsuctum which means dried thoroughly. Its production dates back to Pre-Roman times when salting and curing were paramount to the preservation of meats.
“Prosciutto is in essence an Italian ham which comes in two varieties: cotto (cooked or boiled) and crudo (raw), well, not really raw because it is cured in salt.” The curing process which can last anywhere from two months to two years influences both cost and flavor. Another factor that influences flavor is the aromatics with which the prosciutto is infused during the curing process. Some examples are: fennel, garlic, and pepper; their use is mainly driven by regional tastes. Prosciutto crudo tends to be saltier and the taste of the aromatics is more pronounced. Cotto on the other hand, has a milder sweeter taste.
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