It’s no baloney, mortadella is something we will definitely miss when we leave Arezzo.
It bears a resemblance to our American Oscar Mayer type variety, but make no mistake, the Italian version is much richer, tastier and, I think, purer. Lulu’s refined tastes go even further. She often says, as she gets a free sample of the Italian sausage from our favorite butcher in town, “It’s not mortadella, if it’s not Alfredo’s mortadella.”
You can find mortadella and its delicious piggy sausage cousins, like salami and finocchiona – and this eye-catching and full-bodied roasted and stuffed suckling-pig known as porchetta throughout Tuscany.
It took me a while to get used to being, er, face, to face – leg or snout – with so much meat. In fact, seeing the sequoia- sized logs of pork – like this photo I snapped yesterday at our supermarket –
– prompted me to write the following essay – as excerpted from my book about our adventures here in Tuscany, Because I’m Small Now and You Love Me.
So, the day we walked into our supermercato and saw the grand-daddy of all salumi on display, I’m not exactly sure if it might also have been from the subset, salami, but Lulu and I agreed, it was HUGE.
To better paint this image, let me explain that I like to call this store “the Disco,” because invariably there is some old dance party music thumping through its stereo system. And on this particular day, “Super Freak” greeted us as the automatic glass doors slid open.
“She’s a very kinky girl. The kind you don’t take home to mother”
Lulu was laughing as I began bopping and singing along with Rick James while I pushed our cart. We first arrived at the pasta and bread aisles.
“She will never let your spirits down. Once you get her off the street”
Then we turned the corner to the fresh produce area to select some veggies.
“She’s all right, she’s all right, That girl’s all right, with me, yeah”
And then. Then it happened. We rounded into our final stop. The pork section. And there it was.
A ginormous 12 foot by 2 foot long, brick-red shaft of cured pork was stretched out on a wooden table like a, er, telephone pole. Customers were all crowding around it while a grocery store associate wearing a blue and white striped apron and a little white paper hat delicately shaved off thin slices and handed them out.
It was massive. I had never seen anything like it before. Clearly neither had Lulu. She pointed to it and yelled at me, “Mama! Look! A giant meat rocket!”
That was it. Lulu’s innocent, yet illicit, innuendo, combined with Rick James’ freaky song blaring over the store’s speakers, was just too much for me.
“She’s a Super Freak, Super Freak. She’s super freaky. Yow”
Lulu wanted us to get a sample, but I had turned into a junior high school student. I was laughing so hard at the improbable combination of sights and sounds that I couldn’t bring myself to wait in line for a taste of the meat rocket, er telephone pole, er, straighten up, Gina – salami.
But after almost three years here in Tuscany, I am more than used to the popularity of pork. I am fond of it. And as we prepare to depart Italy for Ireland, I must prepare to have the pork make way for… er, potatoes?
With love of food everywhere,
P.S. What are your region’s specialties? Like ’em? Love ’em?
Copyright 2014 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.