Monday, October 31, 2011

November Porc

It’s that time of the year again when the fog descends on the Bassa Padana (literally the ‘low Padana’ or put another way, the Po Basin), the locals brace themselves for the oncoming winter and pork mania takes hold. November Porc, a month of festivity dedicated to everything pork related, is held in the land of Giuseppe Verdi in the towns of Busseto, Sissa, Polesine, Zibello and Roccabianca, an area known throughout Italy for the outstanding quality of its cured meats. The festival was first held in 2002. It originated as a bet after a group of local salami makers returning from the October beer festival in Germany decided it would be a good idea to hold a festival of their own in November – hence, November Porc. 

The challenge for the organizers was how to sell a festival in November in an area that was renowned for its dense fog. Fog and cured meat products go hand-in-hand in the Bassa Padana. Local environmental, ecological and climatic conditions are considered paramount to developing the distinctive tastes and flavours of the area’s cured meats. Among the most renowned types of cured meat produced in the area are culatello – which many consider the King of Italian cured meats – various types of salami including strolghino (a type of thin salami made from the off cuts of the culatello), spalla cotta (a cooked ham), spalla cruda (a cured ham) and mariola (a cooked sausage).  

Amongst the highlights of this year’s planned festivities are a Mc Porc American-style sandwich van, several master classes in salami and Parmesan cheese making, the making of a gigantic mariolone – cooked salami – in addition to a world record attempt at making the longest salami strolghino – a title the would-be world record breakers held back in 2003. Other regular features will include street artists, live music and gastronomic stands. The official game of the festivities is the Tiro al Salame (throw the hoop around the salami), which was selected by a local youth cultural club known as The Connoisseurs of the Pig!

Yesterday’s inaugural ceremony was held in the town of Busseto in the Province of Parma. The streets were crowded, the air filled with the aroma of pork BBQ’s and in the early evening a dense, impenetrable fog made a dutiful appearance. I’ll be following future events throughout the month and reporting back every week. However, should you want to make a personal visit entry if free and the festivals are being held at the following locations:
5th and 6th November 2011 – Sissa, Parma
12th and 13th November 2011, Polesine, Parma
19th and 20th November 2011, Zibello, Parma
26th and 27th November 2011, Roccabianca, Parma

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