Bologna's famous salame

The great big sausage from Bologna traces its origins back to Roman times, when the meat was pounded in a mortar. Today, what is plain baloney in America is still a high-quality product back home, an esteemed part of Emilian cuisine: prime cuts of pork ground fine (the whitish squares are cubes of fat mixed in) and spiced, traditionally, with pepper and myrtle berries.

Cut paper-thin and folded up for sandwiches, and employed in many forms as antipasti, in pasta sauces and many new and creative dishes: wrapped around cheese to make involtini di mortadella, inside tortellini, in risottos or potato dishes.

Around Italy you'll see things traditionally called mortadelle that are really salami, like the mortadella di Campotosto from the Abruzzo. Mortadella di Prato in Tuscany is a salame made of cheap cuts spiced with cloves, cinnamon and alchermes. Both are in the Ark of Taste, as are Mortadella classica (the artisanal product of Bologna) and Mortadella della Val d'Ossola, made in Piedmont near Lake Maggiore with a bit of pork liver and spicy wine, aged two months, and traditionally eaten sliced on rye bread.

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