A short time ago we wrote on this blog that the Oltrepò Pavese is best known for its wine. However if we zoom in and approach Oltrella, we find that our area (Staffora Valley and surroundings) produces another fantastic Oltrepò jewel, the salami Varzi PDO.
Among the many Italian salami, Varzi PDO has a large group of supporters, including of course ourselves. We may seem biased since we are going to live in the area, but in truth we already appreciated it for many years, since our life in Milan.
Living in Milan we had access to food from all around the world and we liked to try every bit of it … but one night, while shopping for a casual dining, we chose an Italian product, the salami. We liked the idea of serving it whole and slice it fresh with our guests. Among the many, fragrant salami, hung on display in the supermarket, that evening chose a Varzi PDO.
From that first taste, which was a great success among our guests, Varzi PDO has become part of our family: it is friendly and casual but above all it is really good – a slice leads to another like cherries (except crying on the scale the next day ).
This joyful and convivial aspect of salami, however, must not make us forget that it is an ancient and noble food.
Ancient and noble
In Roman times, the Staffora Valley was part of the so-called Via del Sale (Salt Route), connecting the Po Valley to the ports and therefore a thriving center of trade in salt and spices. In addition, the valley with its thick forests of chestnut, beech and oak trees, was an ideal pasture for pigs.
According to oral tradition it was the nomad Lombards, that introduced the habit of working the meat to preserve it for a long time and to easily transport it.
In addition to being ancient, the Varzi salami, the real one, it is also noble, because unlike other salami it uses prime cuts, those normally used to make the prosciutto or coppa. There is a kind of twinning between the Varzi PDO Salami and Prosciutto di Parma: both are produced from animals of the same breed and origin, then are supervised by the same Parma Quality Institute.
Simplicity is king
When at the end of August we had lunch at the restaurant Buscone, which is among the producers of Varzi PDO (but we did not know then), we heard for the first time the terms “filzetta” and “cucito” describing two sizes of Varzi salami, different in weight and seasoning.
Thinking about it now is funny, because back then, when we chose a Varzi for the first time in Milan, we did not know all the details and the features of the product, we only chose after reading the label. Contrary to many salami that have a long list of ingredients (and additives) the Varzi impressed us with its simplicity.
Now as then, we prefer the label of a Varzi DOP: pork, salt, spices.