Friday, November 04, 2011

Soppressata~the spicy salami

There are two stops I make when I visit Florence: the first, my favorite coffee bar, to get my jolt for the rest of the day and then, The Mercato Centrale. As soon as I step through the sliding doors, I am in my element. The hair stands up on my arms, I get so excited!  If I am hungry, all I need to do is walk up to a counter and order. Should I need more coffee, I go to another favorite spot, right there in the market.
 I have just returned from taking my touring group for a ten day adventure. We visited the market twice.We had to do a special stop for cheese. I did one previous tour with some folks from New Zealand and had to do the same.  Honestly, I could spend all day here! One of my favorite stops is the Perini section, who consistently set up an incredible display of meats and foods for display. At times, you can grab a taste or two. The first three photos were taken from their area in the market. They are located all the way towards the back, in case you go looking for them. There are plenty of signs warning you what "not" to touch or taste....

Then we come across the famous pig head, all skinned and no way in the world, able to grunt!

I was hoping to get a photo of this guy turned around so you could see the back side. Gorgeously stuffed! As I asked him nicely if he could" possibly flip" it and he did, Mr. Perini gave me a" not so friendly" smile, so I put my camera down and just nodded.....they have a job to do and the last thing they want is to be bothered by some tourist, like me, with a camera shooting one hundred photos a minute and not coming up for air. It is always polite to ask first to photograph. This is very serious business for them! These guys are are incredible with their displays!
 Anyway, the Tuscan version of this sausage is indeed a head cheese: a sausage made from the pigs head and variously seasoned with spices such as pistachios, pepper and some lemon peel. This, by far, is my most favorite sausage from Tuscany.
 Head cheese is not exactly a delicacy for many of us, but the Tuscans love it....and as you can see, the proud butcher displays the pigs head indicating that Soppressata is for sale at this spot, right now! Soppressata is served by itself or with other cured meats as an antipasto. It is also necessary to note that Soppressata varies in  tastes from region to region in Italy.

One more fabulous display by Perini

And, one more. Enough to make you a cheese addict!

Not Perini, but right across the aisle.


Gloria said...

Wow I love cheese!! all look amazing! gloria

katiez said...

I remember when we lived in Ireland, seeing all the pigs' heads lining the counters in the spring - for Easter dinner. A bit of an eye opener LOL

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Oh my, what a lovely shop. I could spend hours in there. Love the pigs head.

I had an Italian dish that called for soppressata once and I had a difficult time finding it in my tiny mountain town. How I wish I would have lived near here. But who wouldn't love to live in Florence.