All about Culatello and the competition in San Secondo.
The Emilia-Romagna region takes its pork seriously. Culatello, which comes from the Parma area, is considered by most porcophiles to be the finest expression of the pig in all of Italy, if not the world.
The hind muscle of a pig's thigh - usually used to make prosciutto - is boned, and the best part reserved. Lightly salted and spiced, it is tucked into a pig's bladder, webbed with string, dried for two to three months in a well-aired environment, and then transferred to a humid, dirt-floored cellar for 5 to 12 months of aging. The culatello loses about half of its weight in the aging process, leaving the string web hanging like old clothes on a successful dieter.
Italian health authorities have recently decided that the traditional environment for aging culatello is unsanitary, and that producers should tile their cellars to eliminate the humidity that seeps up from the area's underground lagoon. Industrial manufacturers comply with the law, but a few artisans still make culatello in the traditional way.
The Arcisodalizio per la Ricerca del Culatello Supremo, a fraternal organization, hosts a culatello competition in the castle in the village of San Secondo the last Saturday of March. Guests are welcome, and here you can taste culatello at its best.
Arcisodalizio per la Ricerca del Culatello Supremo, Castello di San Secondo, San Secondo 43019, tel. +39 0336 565011.
March 3, 1997