Italy Cooking Vacations: USDA Lifts Cured Meats Ban

Originally published May 17, 2013.

Traveling to Italy, and back, just got even better. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has finally lifted the ban on bringing cured meats, or salumi, from Italy back to the U.S., according to the NPR on May 16. Unfortunately the lifted ban doesn’t go into effect in all provinces of the European country — particularly Umbria and Tuscany — but it will impact what you’re carrying onto the airplane from Lombardy, Veneto, Piedmont, and perhaps most exciting of all, Emilia-Romagna.

Culatello di ZibelloWhy is bringing back salumi from Emilia-Romagna so thrilling? Because it’s the land of culatello, the soft, robust salumi made and aged by none other than the King of Ham, who travelers can meet during our 3-night cooking vacation “Flavors of the Real Italian Countryside.”

The King of Ham, Chef Massimo Spigaroli, deserves that title. His Culatello di Zibello, made from the upper hind legs of the pig, is dried and aged between 13 and 20 months in 500-year-old caves at Antica Corte Pallavicina. This meat, which translates to “little backside,” has become so famous in large part due to its amazing flavors, which are more refined than the widely-available prosciutto di parma.

Chef Massimo Spigaroli, King of HamChef Spigaroli’s culatello is not new to the area. In fact, the relais dates back to 1320 and over the centuries, it’s survived the Po River, which has changed its course a number of times. Centuries ago, culatelli was aged in the cellars and sent to the Dukes of Milan, and cheese was made in a “maturing room” — and now, in 2013, those rooms are serving the same purposes all over again.

Our Emilia Romagna culinary vacation “Flavors of the Real Italian Countryside” includes 3 nights at Antica Corte Pallavicina, an amazing breakfast spread, a guided tour of the farm, a gourmet tour, and of course a once-in-a-lifetime cooking class with Chef Spigaroli.

You can also take a cookery course with the King of Ham during our six-night food tour of Italy, “Foodie Tour on the Via Emilia: Parma and Bologna.” In addition to the classes, stay in both Parma and Bologna and experience other food tastings — including prosciutto, salami, and wine — in addition to enjoying the unbelievable flavors of culatello, which you can now bring home with you!

By Liz Hall

Read more about Emilia Romagna in our blog:

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