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I am not a great meat eater and so I’m not drawn to the meat section of the market unless we want something specific. However, we noticed that there was always a long line-up at one of the shops selling prosciutto and cured meats so we decided to try their prosciutto. I just found out that the word prosciutto comes from the Latin ‘pro exsuctum’ which means to suck out thoroughly i.e. to dry. So know you know! There’s prosciutto crudo which is served uncooked, and prosciutto cotto which is cooked.
Since Fidz comes from Emilia-Romagna, he opted for prosciutto di Parma. This is made from the hind quarters of selected breeds of pigs which have been fed grains, cereals, and whey from the making of cheese. The pigs must be at least 9 months old and weigh 140 kg at the time of slaughter. The meat is cured with salt alone and no nitrates are used. A maestro salatore or a salt master adds only enough salt to cure the meat so it is less salty than other types of prosciutto. The hams are left in controlled humidity and refrigerated for about 2 weeks in salt. Then the hams are hung for 70 days under refrigeration and controlled humidity before being washed and hung to dry in well-ventilated drying rooms. The drying process is complex and goes on for at least a year and this stage apparently, is what gives Parma ham its distinctive flavour. After being tested, it is stamped with a crown shaped stamp as you can see on the left of this ham.
Anyhow, at the market, we had to wait for at least 20 minutes before we were served as everyone in front of us wanted various types of prosciutto. The woman cutting the ham was truly phenomenal. She was able to cut paper thin slices which she carefully transferred to a sheet of paper. I was mesmerized by the sight of her cutting such perfect slices. In order to get the best taste from prosciutto, it not only has to be cured properly but the slices need to be fine enough to almost melt in your mouth. The one we bought certainly did and we had a fine lunch as you can see above with prosciutto, mozarella and tomatoes. Note the basil still growing on our balcony at the end of November!