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Sicilian Black Nebrodian Swine Salame
by Roberta Gangi

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Pork salame.The Sicilian Black Nebrodian Swine is a breed of hog having wild boar bloodlines. As its name implies, it is raised in the Nebrodi Mountains and its bristles are black. Salami, by definition, is a cured and salted sausage made from the meat of any of various mammals, including pigs. It became popular in Mediterranean regions because it was easy to preserve at fairly warm temperatures, though in medieval times Sicily's climate was certainly cooler than it is today.

Similar to salami is bresaola, a salted, air-dried horse meat or beef similar to beef jerky, though the latter is usually marinated and then smoked before drying, resulting is a slightly chewy product.

Salami (whose name, like salumi, derives from the Italian sale meaning "salt") is made by filling beef or pork intestines with chopped, spiced meat. Such things as venison salami exist, and in Italy it is not unusual to add walnuts or pistachios to the mixture, as shown here. Either before or after filling the casing, there is a brief fermentation, a process requiring no small degree of skill to ensure that the salami doesn't spoil.

Most salami is air-dried. This completes the curing. Traditionally, it would take a few months to produce a good salami. The longer the time allowed for curing, the sharper (less sweet) the taste. Most salami is not, strictly speaking, cooked but - like ham - it can be.

We do not know precisely when salame was introduced in Sicily. Historical lore says that Sicilian knights travelling through Piedmont's Po Valley (around Monferrat) toward Germany with Frederick II who were supplied with salami made the food known in those regions. However, there is evidence to suggest that salami was made in northern Italy and north of the Alps before the thirteenth century.

Whatever its origin, pork salami is delicious.

About the Author: Roberta Gangi has written numerous articles and one book dealing with Italian cultural and culinary history, and a number of food and wine articles for Best of Sicily Magazine.

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