Salami is cured, fermented and air-dried sausage, popular in Italy and the mediterranean, as well as around the world. This meat is convenient due to its relatively long shelf life, and it can be used in a variety of delicious recipes. Plus, it now has a special day just to call its own. It’s National Salami Day!
History of National Salami Day
Salami has a relatively unknown history as its creation cannot easily be traced to a particular time. However, some researchers believe that the ancient Romans would eat salami as a part of a larger food group that used salt as a preservative which is probably where it got its name, since ‘salare’ is Italian for salt.
Most people consider salami to be an Italian food–and even the word is Italian! The English language simply used the pluralized form of the Italian word ‘salame’ to indicate the cased meat but, in English, ‘salami’ is singular.
As an air-cured pork meat, salami is a cased meat that was originally wrapped in a natural skin made of other parts of the pig. Sometimes it is also made from beef, wild boar, goose, venison or even duck for unique variations.
Meat for salami comes from different parts of the pig (or other animal), and should include a mixture of lean meat as well as fat in order to get the flavor just right. That’s why the look of the inside of the meat has a marbled looking texture. Although ‘lean salami’ has been popularized for its health benefits, most artisanal salami makers would say that the flavor is not as good.
To make salami, the meat is ground up to a fine texture and then flavored by adding spices or herbs. Some of the most popular flavorings include garlic, white pepper, vinegar or even wine. (Salami’s flavor is not as strong as its popular pizza-topping cousin, pepperoni.) Once stuffed into the casing, salami is usually aged in a fermentation and drying process that lasts between one and three months–or sometimes longer, even up to several years.
Today, Europe is a huge producer of salami. In fact, between Germany, Italy, France, Hungary and the other countries that produce it, several hundred million pounds of salami are produced and eaten each year.
National Salami Day got its start in 2006. Started in Henrico, Virginia by a group known as the Salami Appreciation Society (SAS), the idea was that the salami is a meat that is far too often overlooked and it needed to be given its day in the sun. The official National Salami Day website offers fun tidbits and ideas for celebrating.
How to Celebrate National Salami Day
Enjoy Salami with Friends, Family and Coworkers
National Salami Day encourages people all over the globe to explore the world of salami by trying new and adventurous types of salami, and enjoying salami with friends at salami-themed parties.
Instead of cooking dinner, create a lovely charcuterie board that includes salami and other cold meats served with cheeses and fruits. Or take a deli platter filled with salami, cheeses and veggies to work to encourage the whole office to get involved with celebrating the fun that comes along with National Salami Day.
Take a Picnic with Salami
Salami is actually an ideal picnic food because it does not require refrigeration and can be packed into a basket with bread, cheese, fruit and other delicious items that can be spread out on a picnic blanket to enjoy with friends.
Plan a Trip To Italy to Enjoy Salami
Considered to be an important staple in food throughout the country, National Salami Day might just be the perfect excuse to take a trip to the beautiful Italy. Here, it’s easy to find lengths of dry cured salami simply hanging in butchers or grocery stores.
Slice it thick or thin, depending on the style of meat, and enjoy it on a fresh baguette (which European bakeries are famous for) topped with a hunk of fresh cheese. Of course, don’t forget to enjoy a few olives and a glass of lovely red wine with it as well. Italy is absolutely delicious!
While in Italy, it would be a shame not to visit the Salami Museum in Parma. Located in the lovely cellars of the Felino Castle, this museum boasts the history of salami using documents dating back as far as 1436. It also houses various instruments related to butchery, as well as other artifacts and showrooms.
Or, pop over the charcuterie museum, called the Museo della Salumeria. (It’s located in a castle, Castelnuovo Rangone, in Modena, Italy, which is actually less than an hour’s drive from Parma!) It offers an insider’s view of the production facilities as well as displays of machinery, herbs, spices and other salami related items.
Make Some Salami Recipes
While this might be a surprise, some big fans of salami believe that it is as versatile as bacon when used in cooking! It can certainly do more than simply be sliced and slapped on a piece of bread with cheese. Try out these ideas for cooking with salami to add some unique flavors and interesting takes on culinary adventures:
- Salami with Fried or Scrambled Eggs. Whether using it as a side to go along with a fried egg, adding it chopped up into an omelette, or making it into a delicious hash, salami makes a great meat to be paired with eggs–at breakfast or any time of the day.
- Salami with a Bowl of Pasta. A new version of Pasta Carbonara (pasta with bacon), chop up some salami finely and add to a red sauce to place over pasta.
- Salami on a Grilled Cheese Sandwich. It’s true that today’s grilled cheese sandwiches aren’t just for kids anymore! All kinds of different gourmet options can be created for this delicious and easy favorite sandwich–including a grilled cheese with salami slices.
- Salami in Soups. Salami is a great meat to add to soups that are thrown together and made with whatever is on hand in the kitchen. Try salami in a bean soup or vegetable soup. Or channel that inner Italian and throw some salami into a minestrone soup recipe.