As a chef, educator and a salumi maker, many people, especially those “not-in-the-know” ask me this question. I typically (tactfully) respond in my Massachusetts accent ~ butchering the pronunciations ~“It’s like that French chahhhcoooterreeeyyy stuff. Due to that Medici chick back in the day, and all the Italians basically teaching the French all they know about food, but somehow, the French get all the accolades and the popular meat term that eminates the salivating lips of foodies and chefs flexing their meaty muscles… Charcuterie!”
Salumi is to Italy what Charcuterie is to France. Both are considered to be forms of what the American public often calls “further processed meats”. For some, the term further processed meats itself brings visions of olive loaf, the multi-pack of meat from Oscar Meyer, and the fist pumping rants of Ann (renegade lunch lady) Cooper and PETA raging against the machine of the carniverous USDA.
Whatever your personal belief, further processed meats, salumi and charcuterie both are an all inclusive catchall terms referring to all meats; dry cured, smoked/cooked, fresh sausage and even pate, terrine and galantines. So sausage, bologna, pepperoni and proscuitto are all salumi. Furthermore, salumi/charcuterie can be considered anything other than roasts or steaks handled in such a fashion being transformed into a myriad of other well known processed meats.
Salumi- derived from the Latin term salsus (salty) or Italian sale (salt) simply a way of preservation. Originally salumi referred to meats that were dry cured such as salami, salame and prosciutto. Salumi came more from a means of necessity and utilization to sustain and have an abundance of food over long periods of time. Salumi, the real deal old world stuff made of nothing more than pure sea salt, meat and spices (no junk added, no nitrites, nitrates or fermentation cultures) was salted and dried to a point, now known in the new world, NOT to be a PHF (potentially hazardous food) due to its low moisture content. What that means is that salumi has enough salt and the lack of moisture which creates an environment that little nasty things like salmonella, listeria and botulism cannot survive.
These salumi items can be stored at room temperature without concern of spoilage which back in the day was a pretty good way to live.
Over the past decade salumi/charcuterie has been on the forefront of culinary trends in many forms from USDA small and large production to restaurant chefs and even home enthusiasts.
All Salumi is Salami but not all Salami is Salumi! Say that five times fast!!! Seriously though, here is the breakdown…..
Salami/Salame- Most well known term that American culture is most comfortable or familiar with when referring to dry sausage specifically. Salami/salame dry sausages are produced from big conglomerates down to today’s artisan producers. Coarse or finely ground meat (most often pork), at Il Mondo Vecchio we make a selection of seasonal SaLambi (salumi made from American Lamb).
Salumi- Originally an all encompassing term referring to preserved meats dry sausages and dry cured whole muscles such as coppa/capicola, prosciuttio, pancetta, lomo and guanciale just to name a few. Technically salumi now by definition in the new world also includes fresh sausages, smoked/cooked specialties such as mortadella and cotechino.
With expert execution and passion of salami, salame and salumi from my own Il Mondo Vecchio-Salumi (Denver), Erik Gutknecht Continental Sausage (Denver), Chef Cosentino’s Boccolone (San Fran), The Batali Family’s Salumi (Seattle) and Olympic Provisions (Portland) to larger companies such as Paul Bertolli’s Fra Mani (San Fran) and Salumeria Biliese (NYC/NJ) and the age old big dogs Volpi (St Louis, MO), Columbus (San Fran) to dare I even mention for fear of reprimand and ridicule from my salumi colleagues and brethren Hormel and Oscar Myer.
At the end of the day no matter how you slice it, from small to large, each fits the category of what salumi is in its purest form…which is nothing more than a fancy way of saying… “further processed meats”.
A great source reference and research on the great American Salumi movement by Kim Long (American Forecaster) and John Lehndorff (freelance writer Boulder Daily Camera, Aurora Sentinel) can be found @ www.AmericanSalumi.com
Other References, meat porn and friends: