In the beginning I decided that I needed to attend a charcuterie course.  It was well publicised.  It cost quite a lot.  I was sure that I would learn a great deal.

I was told to bring some pork belly which I had already salted.  The instructions were minimal.  I did what I thought was a good thing.  As it transpired, I was told that what I had done had problems.  It rather seemed to me that I had not been told what to do.  A theme that I return to later.

The course was at night, there were demonstration pieces of meat.  Everyone had one.  There was no, or not much, instruction as to why the stages were being undertaken.  About half way through I asked what about nitrates?  The answer was that we do not like nitrates and do not use them.  It was early days, although I must say that I had some reservations as to this position (i.e., no nitrates) insofar as amateur charcutiers were concerned.

Nonetheless we continued.  Rolling of pancetta was shown.  Tying of pancetta was demonstrated.  All was complete.  We had stuff to take home.

  • Pancetta tesa
  • Pancetta arottolata
  • Breasola

“Where does one put these things?”, I asked.  The answer was you need to find a place which will sustain the curing process.  What was that I asked?  A series of parameters as to temperature, humidity and time were rehearsed.  It had clearly been rehearsed before.

“What if I do not have that?”, I asked.  My charcutiers were somewhat unresponsive after that time, they being largely preoccupied with selling hardware and consumables.

Such is the life of a charcuterie demonstrator.

It was about this time that I decided there must be more to this.