Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Bologna - Culinary Heart Of Italy

I'm not certain how I came to have an interest in cured and smoked meats and sausages. Maybe it was the BBQ I've written about, this 'blog, at:

 Mashed Potato Salad a Palative for Spicy BBQ.

I cannot be certain. No matter. Julia Child had written a short piece in one of her cookbooks about someone in Nebraska or Montana, I've forgotten where. He was making a sausage stuffer out of a caulk gun. I wrote to Mrs. Child and her assistant wrote me back and gave me the guy's name. Which I have also forgotten. I wrote him, he mailed me a sample of his sausage stuffing caulk gun. I got some casing, can't remember from where, yada yada. 

Long story short, I eventually went to Italy. Everywhere I went I tried to find a sausage stuffer that had a piston like the one made with a caulking gun. The worm or grinder types make a mess. Trust me, I used my Mom's old Kitchen-Aid grinder with the stuffer attachment. It is way too high off the work surface, the worm doesn't put enough meat per length of casing and I just didn't like the mess it made.
In Italy I went to Milano (Milan). Wandered all over. Could never find a stuffer. Same with Venezia (Venice) and Firenza (Florence). No stuffer there, either. Then I got to Bologna. The nice concierge at the Palace Hotel, gave me the expression in Italian - something like - salsiccia insaccatrice con un pistone. So, off to the town's central market, on my 2nd to last day in Bologna. I had given up hope. I had been all over Italy and had no success. But I wanted to see the old town the Centro Storico (historic central neighborhood) and as I wandered the streets, trying to follow the concierge's instructions to get to a hardware store  ...  I think it was called the Knights of Hardware (Cavalieri di Ferramenta). I took a wrong turn and another and another.

I stopped in at a bakery or panetteria. There must not have been men in that place for 300 years. Six women in the place, two behind the counter. All eyes turned towards me as I entered. All conversation stopped. I recited my formula phrase: salsiccia insaccatrice con un pistone. Most of them shrugged, but one woman, came from behind the counter, I think she just wanted me out of her store, took me outside and said a few things in Italian. I tried to follow, but couldn't and didn't ask her to repeat herself, as she was waiting on customers.

I wandered further afield from where the concierge had given me to understand the location of this ferramenta was. The dusk started to settle over the Old Town. Lights started going out and it became more and more difficult to see. Hopeless, I started wandering back towards the hotel. I made another wrong turn and unquestionably I was surprised when I saw the: