Being from Northern California, one of my favorite lunch meat staples was Italian Dry Salami, and the best brand was Columbus, based in San Francisco. Encased in mold, this cured meat with garlic and black pepper, is still one of the greatest flavors that I know. When enjoyed with some wine, sour dough bread, and a sharp cheddar -- I'm a VERY happy camper.
I hear the shock from those of you from the New York and New Jersey area. But it's true, San Francisco had a good amount of salami producers in the early 1900s. Before refrigeration became the norm, the San Francisco climate was ideal for making salami.
As an LA Times article states: "As the salami dried, the links fermented, and a change in acidity effectively cooked the meat, and produced the complex spectrum of flavors. As this happened, the sausages would also dry. The meat would lose roughly 30% of its water weight. A penicillin mold would form on the coat, checking exposure of the meat to air, and thus stopping oxidation and preventing rancid flavors. "
Unfortunately, the moldy coating is rarely found on the salami any more -- now it's taken off then vacuum packed to ensure freshness. But the flavor remains the same.
Unfortunately, when I moved to the DC area, finding Italian Dry Salami became almost impossible. And when I did find it, it was in specialty shops, in tiny, yet expensive, chubs. Once I moved to the Lake Norman area, I began my search anew. This time, same luck.
But last week, when I had lost all hope, I walked into Ferrucci's at the Shops on the Green, in Cornelius. I looked at the salami selection, and there it was Italian Dry Salami. YIPPEEE!!!!
Ok, the brand surprisingly was Boar's Head, so that threw me off. But once I got it to my car, and tasted a slice -- I knew it was Italian Dry Salami. The hint of black pepper and garlic, the dry and hard texture, and the smell.... oh that smell. It reminded me of homey deliciousness.
Also, it should be noted that the guys at Ferrucci's know their stuff. I had a brief conversation with guy who sliced my order, and as it turns out Italian Dry Salami, is very similar to Sicilian Salami -- good to know!
So, yes, this entire post was about the fact that I finally found some Italian Dry Salami in the Lake Norman Area. I admit, it was a strange obsession. But my wife is glad to know that I won't have the occasional tirade about missing it. It's here for me to enjoy -- about 10 minutes from my house. :)
Sicialian Culture: Salami War Won by Italians in California
Ferrucci's Italian Market