The Italian sandwich: it’s a staple of delis everywhere, including ours at D’errico’s Market. There’s a lot of debate about what ingredients should go into the perfect sandwich, but an absolutely necessary ingredient is some type of cured meat. There are many options, but one that you’ll find in many sandwiches is salami. As we prepare to celebrate a very important holiday—National Salami Day on September 7th—we want to look at where this delicious cured meat comes from and what makes salami salami.
Where does the name salami come from? The Italian word for salt is sale, and the second half of the word means that it is a collective noun, referring to a group of things. So initially, salami was any salted meat. Traditional Italian food includes several styles of cured meats. Eventually, the name salami came to mean just the most popular kind. The method that makes what we call salami today involves putting spiced ground meat into a natural casing and leaving it to dry and ferment for anywhere from days to years.
The process of fermentation has been around for thousands of years. Fermentation allows beneficial, or at least benign, organisms to grow in food to keep it from spoiling. In the ancient world, fermentation and curing were both methods that would preserve foods before the invention of refrigeration. Cured meat was common in the Mediterranean and southern Europe because long, dry, sunny days made it easy to dry the meat.
The Italian sandwich is one of the many things that came out of Italian-American immigrant culture. When millions of Italian immigrants came to America in the 19th century, they brought their traditions and their food with them. They shared their cuisine with their fellow immigrants from other countries, and the delicious blend of flavors that is Italian-American food was born.
Every deli claims that they have the best Italian sandwich, but know that we have something special at D’errico’s Market. But don’t take our word for it. Come visit and find out for yourself! And while you’re here, you can pick up something to take home for dinner.