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Italian Salami, Prosciutto and Mortadella

Jun 18, 2008
Italian salami is not often named as a typical Italian product, even if it is really present in Italians daily diet.

This simple cold cut is commonly used in Italy in an antipasto or, more commonly, inside a sandwich that a young Italian student eat at school pause.

Generally salami is made with 1/3 beef, 1/3 pork and 1/3 fat. This proportion varies depending on the kind of salami. For example, the felino one is usually made with precious meat and less fat, being considered a gourmet one.

Outside Italy, cold cuts are not always fresh and often are considered as something conserved, not appropriate for a daily diet.

This false impression is due to the fact that often these cold cuts are not consumed often in these countries, associated with fat and conserved food.

They are indeed conserved, and one should not base the own diet on cold cuts. But it is not a drastic choice, as they have high nutritional values.

Italian salami has a protein percentage range that goes from 24 to 30%, and contains potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and B1, B2 and PP vitamins.

Besides salami, there are a wide variety of Italian cold cuts that can be easily found in any Italian market, for daily use. The cold cuts counter has always a queue of people buying salami, prosciutto, mortadella, between other varieties.

Many times the word-of-mouth fails. The famous Italian raw prosciutto is often a label for less valuable cold cuts or just different products.

Between the Italian raw hams, one of the most famous one is called Prosciutto di Parma. This product has the European Quality Brand PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), so as 7 other Italian raw hams. But often people just say "Parma" thinking they are saying "Italian raw ham".

Prosciutto di Parma is a wonderful product, so is the Tuscan one, but they are different. The Parma one is sweeter, and the Tuscan one is salted (it is salted because originally used by the shepherd s with the Tuscan bread, that has quite no salt).

Italian raw ham is a gourmet product and is used in all diets, including the children ones, as it is a healthy choice, being rich in proteins an easy to digest.

The "poorest" cold cut is mortadella. It is considered poor because who couldn't afford buying raw ham, bought mortadella. But it is not poor in taste, rather it pleases all. A fresh and crispy piece of bread with a tiny slices of mortadella is one of the taste major delights.

Mortadella is made only of pork. During the '600 a cardinal settled a prohibition of including beef into the mortadella recipe, prohibiting also the production of this specialty outside the city of Bologna, as it was difficult to control these productions. These rules have changed, as it is produced in many other cities now, but a good mortadella must always contain only pork.

In an average Italian family, cold cuts are used for children sandwiches at school - it is surely a better choice comparing to extra sweet snacks, as antipasto and as an alternative dinner.

Specially when one is hungry, the vision of a table set with cold cuts as Italian salami, prosciutto and mortadella together with a couple of baskets containing fresh bread, some good Italian cheeses and a bottle of Italian red wine is surely an excellent choice.
About the Author
Ana Maria da Costa Vasconcellos, economist and enogastronomic expert, lives in Italy since 1983 and shows Italian food culture from the inside, with tips and useful info in her website All about Italian food.
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