What a pleasure it was to visit Chiramonte, a mountain top town about 40 minutes from Tursi. I was on the trail of some of best Salami, pancetta, Laredo produced in la Basilicata.
As always a drama, in fact more than one. The road after Val Sinni was closed and so we were diverted across country, which normally is a disaster but on this occasion we arrived unscathed. Climbing up to this beautiful little town was a joy with glimpses of snow topped mountains and skies heavy with clouds. Then we came to a traffic light which are rare outside of major towns, and it was red and remained that way for 15 minutes. I had backed down the road ready to leave when l realised it had at last changed to green, l reversed again and it was already amber, no stopping at this point.
Driving through Chiramonte it became obvious that the Centro Storico of this charming town has to be one way the streets are tiny and literally paved donkey tracks. Eventually l found Arcomano a quaint butchers selling only their home raised pork and corn fed chickens. Of course also all products pork related, hanging behind the counter and amongst the salami and sopprasatta curing in the shop was an opaque, creamy coloured ball. As he was quite taciturn, me being both a stranger and English l thought what the heck let's get him talking. 'Is that a pig's bladder' l asked, his face broke into a smile, the ice was broken and he was happy to talk.' Yes' he said 'we use it as a container for preserving the salami under lard'. 'Ah' l replied ' the antique way'. 'Yes' he said ' the antique way'. Sometimes l genuinely believe l have lived here in another life.
A last thought on these salami are to use them in recipes calling for chorizo, the sweet pepper used to conserve them brings to mind the great Spanish sausage. Fried a little to render the fat they are a great addition to canellini beans or soups.
Arcomano salami and other conserved products are much sought after, the quality is excellent, the curing perfect, with big pieces of naughty fat running through. The sopprasatta a larger salami with cracked black pepper which is pressed into a flatter oval shape is particularly divine. Of course the casings are all natural and his products are as close to homemade as you can possibly buy.