Freudian connotations aside, if there is a category of food adored and savored with passionate longing in my greedy little heart it is salumi and sausages, foods whose siren songs lures me to wreck upon the shores of gluttony with an unsettling ease. Something magical occurs when pork is spiced, salted and cured…a biblical resurrection, where meat first descends to ferment/cure, later resurrected to reveal itself transformed into something urgently necessary by the industrious microscopic best friends of foodies all over, bacteria (“…from the producers who brought you cheese, pickled foods and wine…!”).
There are hardly any better ways to enjoy a freshly baked crusty loaf than accompanied with some thinly sliced pepato salami, while sausages are the democratic meaty incarnation of what food is meant to be: unfussy, yet near-universally beloved by gourmands and the hoi polloi alike (even vegetarians seem to love the taste apparition known as soy sausages). The most recent satisfying meal enjoyed during these holidays was a partnering of a side of Hungarian sausage with a stack of buttermilk pancakes drizzled in bacon-infused caramel; it was as decadent as it sounds, yet the contrasting notes of savory-spiced with buttery-sweet made for a most natural melody in the mouth no different from the ubiquitous bacon plus pancake partnering. Schemes of kolbász pigs in a blanket were born upon first bite.
Unfortunately, besides Los Angeles’ artisanal sausage scene and ethnic specialties like Korean blood sausage, one must look to San Fransisco for exemplary examples of sausages and salumis. I’ve spent the last hour researching possible new cured pork products to sample after enjoying more than several slices of a salame pepato this afternoon from Boccalone Salumeria my sister gifted my this Christmas. Joyously tainted with the blessing of cured swine, I’m now feeling a strong urge to order additional handcrafted cured goodness from up north where the Italian tradition of salted and cured meats is prevalent and has traditional roots amongst the Italian-American community that still defines the city’s palate. High on my list are selections from Paul Bertolli’s Fra’ Mani (if his name sounds familiar to you foodies, it’s because he formerly helmed Chez Panisse). I only wish the Fatted Calf offered mail order, as they’re amongst my favs while visiting up north, but Fra’ Mani looks anything by second rate.
On a more local note, and right after Sara Kate of The Kitchn inquired about this very subject, announcement of a genuine butcher shop in Los Feliz are making the rounds, exciting local carnivores east of the 101 in anticipation:
Hillhurst Ave. is getting an upscale butcher shop, featuring artisanal sausages, Kurobata pork, local poultry and dry-aged beef and fresh fish and shellfish. McCall’s Meat and Fish plans to open in mid-January…
Perhaps 2010 will be the year of meat, with the aim of eating less of it…but only the best!