A Party for Everyone but the Pig

January 26, 2009 / Food & Wine
Campania

In December we look forward to visiting with extended families and eating wonderful seasonal recipes. Then it’s time to greet the new year with spumante, panettone, cotechino e lenticchie. And finally presents and candy-coal are bought to stuff the children’s stockings for la Befana. After this prolonged food orgy, a kind of lagging fatigue sets in… is there anything worth living for until Easter?

If it wasn’t for u’ puorc (as the pig is called in Campanian dialect), January would be a dull, cold month indeed.

Now as in the past, this is a time of celebration for rural farmers and an excellent reason for the whole family to get together once again. A fat, healthy pig signifies ample food for the winter, with tasty delicacies such as prosciutto, culatello, salami, capocollo e soppressata. The saying goes “E’ una festa per tutti tranne che per il maiale” (It’s a party for everyone but the pig).

sanguinaccio2Whereas everyone has heard of these wonderful Italian pork products, there are other, lesser known ones as well. “Del maiale non si butta niente” (nothing of the pig goes to waste), goes another old saying, and nothing could be more true of this generous, multi-purpose mammal. There is the unusual sausage called sanguinaccio, which comes from the word sangue or blood. After the pig is slaughtered it is hung and drained of blood. In Campania (as in other regions of Italy) the blood is quickly collected and mixed with raisins, pepper, salt, grated cheese and hand-made tagliolini (of wheat, rice or spelt). For the sweet version, the cheese and salt are substituted with sugar and cocoa. It is then either fried, baked or boiled and afterwards sliced and served. Inevitably, as more animals are bred and fed industrially, this ancient recipe is becoming harder to find.

Old-time farmers still use this as an excellent remedy for anemia, but it has a strong taste and is not for the faint-hearted!

sanguinaccio3

Barbara Goldfield

by Barbara Goldfield

Owner of “Savour The Sannio”, www.savourthesannio.com, a travel consultancy for central and southern Italy.

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