U' purcu. The calabrian tradition of the pork.

The traditional productions of the Southern Italian Region of Calabria feature exceptional salamis: these are also recognized by the European Community.
Large scale distribution often leads to meat imported from abroad and raises reasonable questions about its provenance and how the animals were reared. The main difference between traditionally butchered meat and industrial one lies in its flavour.
The historic pastry shop called Renzelli in Cosenza remembers with excitement the cakes made with sanguinaccio (a preparation made with pig's blood and cocoa powder) that clients used to order, often way ahead, when it was the period for butchering pigs.
Francesco Renzelli, the owner of the shop, highlights how compliance with EEC legislation has caused the loss of an important part of traditional butchery, since it banned of one of the main ingredients of this cake, which is made unique by pig's blood.
In the South of Italy and elsewhere, the ritual of pig slaughtering is part of the cultural heritage of all peasant families that for centuries have been passing down this skill generation after generation as if it were an art.
The pig is reared at home, fed with the leftovers from the kitchen and milk serum that the pig enjoys so much it produces excited squeaky noises.
Pigs are ready for butchering when they are between 8 and 12 months old, not too young as the flesh is watery, nor too old as it becomes stringy. The right climate is in the cold of December and January to prevent the salamis from going off.
The moon's cycle must be respected, as it plays an important role in countryside rituals. The moon needs to be waning when the master butcher decides to slit the throat and quarter the beast.
The sound made by the pig is disturbing. Youths spent in the countryside are accustomed to the sounds of nature and to bloody, raw and archaic rituals. Rituals one is profoundly bound to: their rhythm dictates the calendar of every farmer.
"Hey, hello! Can you join me in Rome this weekend? The exhibition will close in a few days, you can't miss it".
"No this week I can't, sta sittimana addja fa u' purcu" (this week I've got to kill the pig).
The quality of the meat is high and nothing gets thrown away: the ears and hoofs are stored in jelly and suet, as suggested by an old lady who does not kill her own pig, but knows how to prepare it.

Her recipe book fortunately does not contain any EEC legislation, tradition has remained intact as you yourselves will be able to notice when reading through the recipes I have copied from her. 


Tags: blood / tradition / calabria / pork belly / salamis / sausages / pork / stefania monaco /

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