trends, events and
cultural etiquette from
around the world
By Missy Green
As the U.S. Pizza Team heads to Italy for the World Pizza Championship in May, it is certain some food faux pas will be made. I interviewed sev- eral Italians from different regions to shed light on food norms to which
Americans should be privy when competing (or eating) in Italy. And since the
big event takes place in Parma, what better topping to focus on than salumi?
Salumi is best translated into English
as “cold cuts” or “deli meats.” It should
not be confused with salami, which falls
under the general category of salumi.
Salumi is considered to be all of those
largely pork-based meat products that
have been salt-cured. It comes in cooked
(cotto) and raw (crudo) varieties and is
safe to eat with no additional cooking.
In fact, heating crudo products can be
a serious offense to Italians and “should
never be done,” according to the Istituto
Valorizzazione Salumi Italiani, which
adds the following advice:
“We know that deli meats are often
added before, as well as after, cooking a pizza. However, from our experience, a raw
product should be added at the end. The warmth of a freshly baked pizza softens
the [thinly cut] slices, without making them too dry or very salty. Cooked products
may be added at the beginning or halfway through cooking, but you should always
try not to let them dry out and lose their softness. Ideally, you would use the cooked
deli meats in ‘closed’ preparations—for example, with a calzone—which preserves
the characteristics of the deli meat. If you have a good ingredient, it’s best to enjoy
it in its most natural state.”
So, while some of the cotto varieties, like ham and pepperoni, have been spotted
on pizzas before going into the oven, it’s not officially condoned by Italian cuisine
purists. Also, there is a strongly held belief that charred meats are associated with
cancer. So, if you bring your own pepperoni from the States to the World Pizza
Championship, getting that crisp edge may be seen as a rookie move by Italian
judges. In other words, better soft than sorry.
Tips for the World
Keep the Heat Off the Meat!