Clandestino Chaos

Parma, Italy


The lack of posts can be easily justified by the explanation of the utter chaos and insanity that has been endured in the past 3 weeks of my life. I know most of you come to this blog to read about the adventures of my stomach, but this time the only thing my stomach wanted to do was flip and eject itself from the rest of my body (no I did not suffer a digestive virus).

Here is the a list of events that may contribute to the development of my unforeseen schizophrenia:

1) The organization of Italian Bureaucracy is like a scene out of a 3 stooges film. One person bumping into the next, running in circles around each other trying to feign some thread of structure. This has thus made my immigration process absolutely laughable….to say the least I was given an appointment in MARCH to meet with the immigration office.

2) I currently live in a hotel, and my residence naturally, has been booked by someone else in January, forcing me to find a new place to live in very little time. The upcoming Christmas season does not help.

3) I GOT A JOB! As a gastronomic tour guide for Parma Golosa, a food centered travel agency here in Parma. I’ll be giving Americans tours of Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto, and Balsamic Vinegar factories here in the area. They’re even giving me a car!

After all this mess, I’ve come to realize that my life is like a Woody Allen film…only perhaps a little bit less intelligent.

We’ll have to see what’s in store for the next installment of “My Life is a Mess.”

Buon Appetito.

My Internship: An Homage to Pork

So there I was, sitting nervously across the table from the marketing director of Ferrarini, a family owned company that produces typical products from Emilia Romagna (Prosciutto, Parmigiano Reggiano, Balsamic Vinegar, Lambrusco, etc.). I look around me, studying the hanging legs of cured pork, its salty sweet perfume permeates the room. Coming to from my pork induced daze, I realize the director has been studying my every move since the moment I walked into the office.

Preparing to ask his first question, my heart skips a beat, “So why do you care about Italian food? To me it would make more sense for an American to want to promote his own culinary culture no?.” Great. His seemingly nonchalant question has me starting to sweat. I look to the pork for support. “Well, sir, most modern American food corporations of similar size to Ferrarini have been overwhelmed by mass industry. No longer is there passion, or pride in the product being produced. Ferrarini, is a large company, but is family owned, serving consumers products that are Mr. Ferrarini himself would serve to members of his own family.”

This was obviously a good answer, because I saw Mr. Marketing crack a smile. After a series of more demanding questions, I convinced the folks at Ferrarini to take me under their wing, and offer me an internship. I am hoping that this turns into a full-time paying gig… but only time will tell..

I can see it now, my religiously Jewish high school writes an article in the school paper titled “Alums, Where Are They Now?” and there I will be, the President of Pork. An overplayed oxymoron that happens to be my reality. Sorry God, but when opportunity calls….

I start working in mid-June, on various projects they have proposed, particularly involving my internet skills. See mom? I told you my internet addiction would turn out to be positive 😉

Future, Here I Come...

Culatello and Lambrusco: Story of My Life

For the third and final day of our cured meat stage we were given the pleasure to go to a small-family owned pig farm/bed and breakfast (I promise it was way more appealing than it seems) called Antica Corte Pallavicina in a very small town outside of Parma called Polesine Parmense. At this small family owned farm, they produce about 6,000 culatelli a year.. I guess I should start by saying that Culatello is the prime part of the prosciutto, the fattier part of the leg, and it is extremely work intensive.

In order to prepare a culatello, the fresh meat is soaked in a mixture of wine, garlic, salt, pepper, and sets for a week. After this week this part of the pig butt (culo=butt, its namesake) it is tied up, extremely tight, and allowed to cure for at least a year. The conditions in this particular region are prime for curing culatello because of the humidity and weather patterns.

Culatello is MUCH more expensive than regular prosciutto, selling between 60-110 euro/kg depending on the type of pig that is used. It has a much sweeter taste than regular prosciutto as well.

Then we went to the Lambrusco and Sparkling wines producer “Ceci” to have an exclusive look at how these wines are produced. Lambrusco, to many, is known as the “Coca-Cola” of wines, as it is a young wine, usually only left to ferment for 4-5 months, and has a lower alcohol content than other wines (between 10-11%), it’s price is also an indication as even good bottles don’t sell for more than 5E a bottle.

While all the technical explanations were interesting, the tasting at the end was obviously the most appreciated portion of our tour 😉
Here is a quick video demonstrating the process of tying up a Culatello di Zibello, very work intensive.

After these 3 days of meat, I literally feel like I’m turning into a prosciutto… Salad, salad, salad, this is my new mantra.