Tuscan Cold Cuts

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I are worldwide famous for their variety and great taste. However, few may know that there is no one cold cut that is produced all over Italy, which means that all cold cuts are regionally produced and then they may be exported to other parts of Italy and abroad. The famous prosciutto [prowsheeoottoh] or raw ham can be found with very different characteristics in several regions of Italy. The same goes for salame [sahlameh]. There is no one kind of salame, but there may be tens or may be hundreds of kinds of it.
Tuscany has of course a very extensive tradition of cold cuts production, as for the greatest portion of its history the main economic occupation has been agriculture and animal farming. Farmers used to raise pigs that they would kill and process once a year in the fall. Only pig meat goes into Tuscan cold cuts, and it is famous the fact that nothing at all is thrown away when a pig is transformed into a large number of cold cuts or other readily edible foods. Hence the saying that when of something you do not throw away anything, that is like a pig!

But what are the Tuscan cold cuts?

Prosciutto Crudo [Kroodow] Toscano: It is the back legs of the pig, from joint to toe. Salted and peppered it is cured for several months and it may be saltier than other Italian prosciuttos.
Spalla [spallah]: It is the fore leg of the pig. Cured in a similar way as the prosciutto, it is leaner than the latter.
Salame Toscano: It is thinner and shorter than many other kinds, cured for longer times and recognizable by the large chunks of white lard that dot each slice. Should be tasted sliced thin.
Finocchiona [Pheenokkeeownah] or Sbriciolona [Sbreecheeowlownah]: It is a kind of large salame, very typical of the Sienese and Florence areas. It is scented with fennel seeds (finocchio, hence finocchiona) and very soft, so much that when you slice it it crumbles in pieces (sbriciola, hence sbriciolona). Very nice with a fine Chianti.
Rigatino [Reegahteenoh]: It is a square portion of the boned rib cage of the pig, quite spicy as it is cured with black and red pepper. Thinly sliced it resembles bacon, but it is not as sweet and it is not smoked.
Ghiandaio [Geeahndaheeoh]: It is the core of the prosciutto, the leaner and boned part. It is cured with spices.
Salsicce Toscane [Salseecheh]: Made from a combination of lean and greasy meets from various parts of the pig. They can be leaner or fatter depending on this combination. Garlic salt and the pig intestines are the other ingredients. They can be dry or fresh, and are commonly 5 to 7 inches in length, and are found in long “strings”.
Ventresca del Tevere [Ventrehska]: It is the cured side of the pig. Each entire side of the rib cage is cured with spices.
Soppressata [Sowppressahtah]: The boiled head of the pig is boned and the roughly chopped pieces are cured inside the intestines with spices.
Buristo [Booreestoh]: Very peculiar, very delicate. The head of the pig is boiled with lemon rinds and other spices, then the meat is removed, mixed with other meat parts, the filtered blood of the pig, then boiled inside the stomach of the pig. Better eaten fresh, some like it warm.
Guanciale [Gooahnchiahleh]: It is the cheek of the pig, a delicacy rarely found.

These are just the main kinds of Tuscan cold cuts. When you visit Tuscany you will find many other cold cuts that are usually made in other parts of Italy but are reinterpreted the Tuscan way. In addition there is a number of other kinds of cold cuts that are bound to a specific geographic area in Tuscany, like the cinta senese pig breed, or the truffle scented cold cuts of Chianti and Arezzo. It is a wonderful gourmet world to be discovered on the territory. Especially when you are visiting Tuscan towns and villages, you can find many places that for a few euros will prepare a delicious cold cut sandwich accompanied by a hearty glass of red wine., perhaps the best way to enjoy these delicacies.