rl reeves jr reports on the US charcuterie scene

He was almost at the corner of the rue Piroutees, and the [charcuterie] shop was a joy to behold. It was filled with laughter and bright light and brilliant colors that popped out next to the white of the marble countertops. The signboard, on which the name QUENU-GRADELLE glittered in fat gilt lettering encircled by leaves and branches painted on a soft-hued background, was protected by a sheet of glass.

Émile Zola, The Belly of Paris, 1873

Koji Alchemy is the new ‘cookbook’ championing the use of the Aspergillus oryzae fungi to create umami flavors in everything from pastrami to fresh breads. I’ve been hearing of the disturbing use of the phrase ‘vegetable charcuterie’ for some time, and the creator of the nano-trend is author Jeremy Umansky who along with Rich Shih penned this tome. I’m suspicious of vegetable-based charcuterie but if someone put a plate of it in front of me I would be willing to sample it. The book on the other hand holds plenty appeal. Koji shortens normal curing time, and builds deep, semi-funky flavors in everything it comes into contact with. I’m adding Koji Alchemy to my wish list more

Basturma is Armenia’s take on Turkish pastirma. Did ancient horsemen create this rural charcuterie by taking slabs of meat, placing them under their saddles only to gallop across vast plains and fields til the salt in the horse’s sweat, and the motion of the saddle combined to create a brand new cured meat? Possibly. While the myth is a beautiful one, author Benjamin Kemper offers an alternative as well as a basturma recipe for the reader to attempt in their home kitchen. more

A small collective of Basque hog breeders has rescued the Euskal Txerria strain from obsolescence. They raise the pigs in accordance with the old ways of Basque country, and at the end of the maturation period the hog is slaughtered and converted into chorizo, lomo, salchichón, and various hams. Pello Urdapilleta, producer of the Euskal txerria Pork Presidium is putting in the necessary hard work to create this rigorous animal husbandry and charcuterie program. more

I’ve been following the American Cured Meat Championships for the past few years, and Tulare Meat Locker out in California has taken home their fair share of meat-titles. Portugese-American Danny Mendes is the owner of the concern and his stance on curing meat is ably outlined here.

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