Eat all together and above all eat healthy: it’s written in this way, but it’s read “Slow Food“. This international association has been operating in every corner of the Planet since 1986 with the objective of saving animal and plant species from disappearing.
It’s an activity driven forward with effort and commitment thanks to a campaign committed to the biodiversity and environmental safeguard, to the protection of local knowledge and identities, and to place on the market good, clean and most of all fair products – which means products that are sold in compliance with the principles of Social Justice in the areas of production and trade.
Slow Food Foundation coordinates and promotes several projects. One of the ways it operates across the world is through its Presidia. But what are they?
Well, let’s say that they are a network of actions undertaken by the single producers with the goal of safeguarding the traditional products that, because of globalization and uncontrolled modernity, risk disappearing from our tables. What I am talking about are underestimated cured cuts and cheese varieties, animal species that are at risk of extinction and fruits and vegetables that have been forgotten.
In Emilia Romagna there are 14 Presidia by now that protect cured cuts, cheese, flesh, fish and even fruit. Let’s see briefly the traditional products at risk they protect…
Well you have nothing left but to search for the Slow Food logo on the packaging of the Presidia’s products, supporting in this way all producers who respect traditions and environmental sustainability.
Culatello di Zibello
Take the most prized cut of the pork (the large muscle in the pig’s hind leg) and turn it into a cured meat. It seems easy but it’s not! Only a few thousand are still produced by the Presidium because of the large availability on the market. There is obviously a reason: they are entirely produced by hand, aged without the use of refrigeration and made within the eight historic municipalities of the region: Zibello, Busseto, Polesine, Soragna and Colorno.
A proper aging of Mariola requires cold temperatures; it is one of the most traditional cured meats in the Apennines of the Piacenza area and of the Parma valley. Traditionally, there are two versions of it, one is cooked and the other one is raw, but the presidium is focused on the latter, which was once eaten by the lower social classes during Christmas festivities.
If you wonder about Bologna, you randomly think about the towers, the university, the meat-sauce, the tortellini, but also about the well-known sandwich with mortadella that is so widespread in the collective consciousness, and that awarded mortadella with a geographical nickname “bolognese”. The quality varies of course, depending on meat, cooking times, casing used to pack the meat, aromas and additives
Bolognese traditional cooked cured meats
They can be considered as the “little brothers” of mortadella: they are of the same pinkness, but are worked with different cuts of pork, with aromas; then, they are flavoured with garlic and pepper and finally cooked in traditional hot-air ovens
In other regions, pork shoulder is ground up to make salami and cotechino sausages, but in Parma, it is the queen of norcinerias – Parma specialty butcher-shops. Unfortunately, before tasting it, it needs 16 to 20 months of aging – but all of us are well aware that quality requires a certain amount of time and patience.
Corno alle Scale Char
Char is a high-mountain fish that it is to be found in the area of Corno alle Scale, in Lizzano Belvedere, on the Tuscan and Emilian Apennines. This ancient relative of the salmon family is bred right here, imported from America at the end of the 19th century.
Traditional Marinated Comacchio Valleys Eel
This specialty is to be found in a very specific spot of Emilia Romagna, between the river Reno, the Adriatic Sea and the renowned Comacchio Valleys. In this area of low bottoms, sea and sweet water channels, the eels find their natural habitat.
They are threaded onto iron skewers and cooked over a wooden fire. The marinade with white wine, Cervia salt and water are fundamental for an excellent traditional marinated eel.
Tuscan-Romagnol Apennines Raviggiolo
Centuries of history at its back, Artusi defines it as one of the ingredients for making Cappelletti in the Romagna tradition. Before conquering the tables of Italy, the Raviggiolo cheese is prepared and aged right in the area of the Tuscan-Romagnol Appenines.
Green skin and almost red flesh: this is how this funny “pera cocomerina“, which means “watermelon pear”, looks like. It is an ancient and almost forgotten fruit that now is raised in some areas of the Appenines around Cesena. It is not easy to find this kind of fruit at the marketplace and it is usually used to make marmalades and syrups.
Cervia artisanal Sea Salt
It’s the “sweetness” that makes the Cervia Salt stand out above all the others on the market. This is thanks to the almost absence of organolectic elements in its structure that give that classic slightly bitter taste to the salt we are used to when we savor a salty food. It’s excellent for cooking, but also for relaxing, since it is used also in the wellness resorts.
Not much milk, but meat. The Romagnola Cattle, a very ancient cattle variety, is mostly raised for its flesh. It has been at risk of extinction in the last 50 years because of the crisis of extensive animal breeding.
Mora Romagnola Pig
Like the Romagnola Cattle, the Mora Romagnola Pig has been at risk of extinction over the last 50 years as well. Luckily, this did not happen. It has a dark-brown coat, unusual almond-shaped eyes and long tasks that make it look more like a boar than a pig. The flesh, however, is exquisite and very savoury.
Coming from the Parma valleys, the Cornigliese Sheep the result of a crossing of different species whose objective was to obtain animals who could produce good-quality wool, food and milk.
White Modenese Cow
The origins of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese are partially linked to the local white Modenese cow. Later, it has been substituted by the Frisona and the Netherlands Cows, which were able to produce bigger quantities of milk. Nonetheless, it can still be found in the provinces of Modena, Ferrara, Mantova and Reggio nell’Emilia and it is undergoing a period of re-discovery and safeguard.
Davide Marino was born archaeologist but ended up doing other things. Rational – but not methodic, slow – but passionate. A young enthusiast with grey hair