As a Christmas gift in 2015, Andrew gave sent us some Olympia Provisions salami. Olympia Provisions is out of Portland, Oregon and the founder is a first-generation Greek-American who does handmade pork salami. Andrew enrolled us in the Salami of the Month Club so that we got a different kind of salami each month along with a fact sheet about each salami and what kinds of foods and wine to have with it. So it was a gift we enjoyed the entire year!
We got four kinds of Italian salami, four kinds of Spanish salami, three kinds of French salami and a Greek salami and a primer on salami, in general. Salami is a cured sausage with fermented and air-dried meat. I'd never understood that salami is in many ways like cheese, with the same basic ingredient, in this case pork, being made into very different end products by using different ingredients, fermentation (beneficial mold) and aging.
First, the Italian salamis.
Finocchiona is typical of southern Tuscany and is characterized by the use of fennel as an alternative to pepper. It originated during the Late Middle Ages or early Renaissance when pepper was very expensive and fennel grew wild in the Tuscan countryside. This Finocchiona has ground fennel seed, black pepper and garlic. I'd never realized before that the powdery like substance on the outside of the salami is actually mold, just like the mold used in cheese-making to help age the cheese and provide extra flavor.
Nola salami is lightly smoked, which makes it different from other Italian salamis, and it is more coarsely ground and formed into shorter links. It is found in the Campania region. Olympia Provisions puts in black pepper, garlic, chili flakes and allspice.
|Nola salami on some Italian pottery.|
Cacciatore means "hunter" in Italian and refers to a meal prepared "hunter" style, usually with onions, herbs, tomatoes, bell peppers and wine. The "common thread" of cacciatore salami is bold seasoning. The Olympic Provisions cacciatore has caraway, coriander, black pepper and dried red chili flakes.
The final Italian salami was sopressata, more of a southern Italy variety, with the best found in Calabria (the toe of the Italian peninsula). The Olympia Provisions sopressata has clove, oregano, garlic and chili flakes.
Chorizo traditionally uses casings from pig intestines and Spanish chorizo gets a distinctive smokiness and deep red color from dried smoked red peppers.
The Olympia Provisions chorizo rioja is made with both sweet and smoked paprika (a ground spice from air-dried peppers), garlic and oregano. Rioja is a wine-making region in northern Spain and this salami is touted as one that goes well with red wine.
Olympia Provisions chorizo navarre is more spicy, a kind found in northern Spain (Navarre is a province next to the border with France). The ingredients in this salami are sweet paprika, garlic and cayenne pepper. This was one of my favorites. It was very soft and had a nice subtle heat to it.
Olympia Provisions chorizo Andalucia is more sweet and represents southern Spain. It includes sweet paprika, clove and garlic. Andalusia (Andalucia in Spanish) is the territory that covers eight regions of southern Spain.
|Chorizo Andalucia. I couldn't find my own picture, so I borrowed this from the Oympia Provisions website.|
Salchichon is a Spanish summer sausage made by some combination of smoking, drying or cooking. The pork and fat are chopped into small bits, seasoned with salt, pepper, nutmeg, oregano and garlic, inserted into an intestine casing and cured up to three months. The Olympia Provisions salchichon has cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, paprika, black pepper and garlic.
|Salchichon. This picture is from Olympia Provisions website as I could not find my photos for it.|
Saucisson is a thick, dry cured sausage that originated in France. The name comes from the Latin word salsus meaning salted. There are saucisson recipes dating back to Roman times.
Olympia Provision's Saucisson D'Arles is their most elemental salami. It only has pork and salt. Arles is a city and a commune in southern France.
Saucisson Sec is Olympia Provision's "most traditional French salami" and has black pepper and garlic. It is the type of sausage found in Burgundy, an area encompassing four departments in central France. It is their most popular salami.
Olympia Provision's Saucisson D'Alsace is the most ingredient rich French salami they have with clove, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon. The Alsace region of France is in the northeastern part of France neighboring Germany and Switzerland.
Olympia Provisions has one Greek salami, that is Loukanika. It is the family recipe of the owner, Elias Cairo, obtained from his father. It is equal parts cumin and garlic, with a touch of orange zest.
|Loukanika. Picture from the Olympia Provisions website.|
It was very fun to try the different kinds of salami and to learn a little bit about salami in general. It is also nice that this salami is top-notch and delicious. There is not one we did not enjoy. I was keeping notes on the various salamis and at some point during the year misplaced them.