Hand-Slicing Local Farm-Raised Prosciutto
|Hand-Slicing Local Farm-Raised Prosciutto
|Cultural Experiences on Our Soriano Vacations
|Jan 30, 2019
|italian prosciutto hand slicing prosciutto cooking class hands on cooking class foodie tours
In small Italian towns, many people buy a whole prosciutto leg for their family each year. Most people don't go so far as to purchase an electric slicer, so they slice it the old fashioned way, by hand. This may not seem to be a big deal, but there is something raw and "back to basics" about it. Consider this story by Michael, one of the founders of Culture Discovery, relating to his first such experience:
It was my third time in Italy, and Paola and I were engaged. I walked into her kitchen one evening as her mom was slicing a prosciutto. Here I am, this city kid from Los Angeles, in a tiny town in Italy, watching someone slice this huge ham leg by hand. I'm thinking three things:
- That's an awfully big (and sharp) knife that she is moving TOWARD her chest.
- Can't you just buy this stuff already sliced?
- I had recently learned that this leg, in particular, was from a pig named "Georgina", that was raised on their farm (now Villa Eddarella where we do our cooking classes)... who names what they eat?
As I watched in amazement, Paola's mom asked me if I wanted to try, so I shrugged and went for it. She taught me how to hold the leg and how to move the knife. I'm not gonna lie: My efforts were not rewarded with the wonderfully thin slices Paola's mom was able to produce, but there was something amazing about the experience. It was a complete "back to basics" moment.
Here I was, this city kid from the states, in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, slicing a pig with the family that raised it, killed it, and cured it.... by hand.
I tasted the slices (I am being kind to myself by using the term SLICES), and I have to admit that this was the best prosciutto I ever tasted.
I still don't know if it was the best because I sliced it, or perhaps this farm raised pig made better prosciutto? But over time, I have always noted the hand-sliced prosciutto is far better tasting than machine-sliced. I think there is something about the slightly uneven slices that does it. Whatever it is, I made sure later on that we always had our own prosciutto in Italy, and even though we own an electric slicer, we always slice the prosciutto by hand.
During our weeks in Soriano, we always have a prosciutto on hand. One day during each week, we break it out and teach all of our guests how to slice it. It isn't just any prosciutto, however. This is a prosciutto that comes from a pig that is being raised on the farm across the street. In fact, all of our guests the prior year got to know the pig... and you will get to know next year's prosciutto.
It never ceases to amaze us what fun people have when they try their hand at slicing it. And no matter how much we slice, we gobble it up as fast as we can. Everyone agrees that there is something truly special about this experience, to the point that this is always one of the most photographed moments of our week together!