The last cuts of winter from the pig!
Because a ham cured in salt can last so long unrefrigerated, a family could eat well through the long winter. Historically, the last cuts of the pig to be consumed from the previous year’s harvest was the prosciutto, and an array of other cured meats like salami and pancetta.
Our friend Chef Cesare Casella, who learned the art of breaking down animals and curing meats from traveling troupes of butchers in the Tuscan countryside, called Norcini, tells of his annual ritual of picking out a baby pig at the local market and naming it Mimmo, who would live in the yard until just before winter when the Norcini would butcher him for fresh meat, sausage, salami, and prosciutto. When the final morsels of Mimmo were consumed in the spring, Cesare would walk to market with his family to purchase a new piglet. And he would name it Mimmo. In this annual tradition, Mimmo never truly died and was part of a cycle of birth, death, and renewal that nourished us and takes into account the natural movement of the earth rotating around the sun.