Who has not heard of Prosciutto di Parma, perhaps the most famous ham in the world? Prosciutto is the Italian word for ham. It is a term broadly used to describe a ham that has been seasoned, self-cured (but not smoked), and airdried. The meat is pressed, and this produces a firm and dense yet silken texture. Parma is the birthplace of this ham.
This wonderful air-cured delicacy of the Po Valley dates back to the Etruscan times.
Prosciutto di Parma has been around for the past 400 years. The Emilia Romagna region in Italy offers the best Prosciutto of Parma available in the market. Parma has been designated as the new food capital headquarters for the European Food Authority.
Let me lead to a journey outlining how Prosciutto of Parma is made. In ancient times wild pigs were used to make ham. The natural sweetness of the meat is retained as less salt is used. After drying, there is a gradual remoistening of the ham. This process may have occurred as an accident, but modern-day methods take a lot of care & pain to maintain the high standards. Hannibal fortified himself with the ancestor of today’s Prosciutto of Parma.
The best way of seeing this for yourself is by visiting the Parma Proscuitto Festival. Guided tours and tasting sessions are part of this festival. The heart of this festival is an event called “Finestre Aperte (open windows), which covers the entire gamut of the festival. It is possible to see all the different production stages of Prosciutto of Parma. Prosciutto of Parma is simplicity personified. It is salted and then cured with the air descending from the Apennine Mountains. It is then aged in special underground caves and closely tended by Parma’s salumiere. Some people say it is like a baby and needs as much care.
Succulent pigs are raised by crossing five approved breeds which are matured for a year. Their weight should be between 160-200kgs & well made. High-quality control & stringent standards are followed.
Prosciutto of Parma is also considered as the secret weapon of Italian cooks and homemakers. It can be used as it is as thin transparent slices or with melons and olives. There are different combinations with the right bread. It is used with Stilton cheese and figs. This naturally versatile food is also used in salads and soups. It is also combined with peppers, asparagus, chicken slices &tossed with pasta, olive oil, etc. &served with the right wines. Prolonged cooking toughens it.
Italian Proscuitto is designated as Prosciutto Cotto which is cooked and Prosciutto Crudo which is raw.
Italian mountain climbers & athletes often praise Prosciutto di Parma as an integral part of their diet.
Finally, it would be amiss if you didn’t visit the famous Prosciutto Museum of Langlierano. It is a unique play to spend a few moments and imbibe in the atmosphere of the ancient places where Prosciutto di Parma was produced. It can give you an insight and help you understand the secrets of its creation.