ORIGINS

CURED MEATS

The art of delicatessen was very much appreciated at the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans, even if this started relatively late compared to the other food techniques. Many cold cuts, were imported from the region of Gaul always famous for its specialization in meat processing as explains Terentius Varro (BC 116-27): "[the Gauls] salted from three to four thousand pieces of pork meat due to the pig weight that grows up to a stage that it no longer stands up and cannot walk". The Roman rudimentary techniques for meat salting prescribed first smoking or salting and then the storage in a suitable room, called carnara, in which the slaughter products were kept hanging on hooks; an alternative Directions, developed over the years of the Empire, was to preserve meat in clay pots filled with mustard or honey mustard.
Tabernae, comparable to our current public houses, were the public places where cold meats were usually consumed, along with boiled meat and some vegetables, lard and ham in salt. But what were the specialities processed by the ancient Romans? The overview of the work consisted of meat sausages, several different types of bacon and lard but especially the ham. The latter was made by processing the thigh (then called pins) or shoulder (and it was called petasus), put in salt and then smoked to be stored for several months; between the two types the most precious one was the first because the shoulder ham, as claimed Juvenal (AD 60-140), when aging became rancid easily and withered. The passion of the Romans for the ham was such that they even named a street in the city (now Via Panisperna), entitling it after "panis" (bread) and "perna" (which in Latin means precisely ham). Ham, once ripened was eaten cooked. Apicius, according to the tastes of the time, advised to boil it with barley and dried figs, then topped it with honey, baked it and then cook it in a pan with wine, pepper and rue, served with mostaccioli (spicy chocolate rhombus shaped sweets). Among the sausages, the Romans favoured those obtained from different types of meat, mixed with starch, breadcrumb or eggs and very spicy; you could enjoy them cooked in water and then grilled. For sure the best known and most appreciated one was the luganega sausage (loganoes ), sausage made of pork and smoked beef, which many authors write about: Petronio Arbiter (nk – AD 66), for example, writes about it over the Trimalchio dinner when it was served among the starters on silver grills; Martial (AD 40-100) recommended to accompany it with warm white polenta; according to Varro (BC 116-27), however, the name came from Lucania where the product had originated. Finally, a typical product of the Roman Delicatessen, now discontinued, was the stuffed sow's vulva, of which Apicius gives a recipe: "ground pepper, cumin, two small heads leek cleaned till the tender part, rue and garum; plus meat minced twice and mixed well with the other products in the mortar. Flavours it with peppercorns and pine nuts and make of it a mixture that is introduced into the vulva previously well washed. Starts cooking it in water with oil, garum and a bunch of leeks and dill". In the late Roman Empire, the intake of pork meat and sausage production was rather consolidated among the population: the Emperor Aurelian between 270 and 275 AD, concerned about the extinction of the swine breed, imposed censorship laws to stop the massacre. In his edict Diocletian AD 300 stated that the sausages had to cost two coins per pounds, the equivalent of the cost of some vegetables, a quite tiered price with regards to inflation which even then was fast growing.