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The essence of cooking is transformation; creating something that is greater than the sum of its individual ingredients. The art of curing meat offers this allure in spades: start with simple ingredients – pork, salt, spices – then provide an environment hospitable to the chemistry of curing. What makes the art of curing meat so different from "everyday” cooking, however, is the degree to which time and patience factor into the process. Regular cooking offers nearly instantaneous gratification, usually delivered within hours or minutes of preparing a dish. The art of curing meat, by contrast, requires weeks, months, even years, to complete the process. When things go as planned, the result can range from simply delicious to the sublime.

Boccalone was hardly a gleam in our eye back in 2003, when Chris started making small batches of salumi (salumi is Italian for "cured meats", the equivalent of the French word “charcuterie”) at our restaurant, Incanto. As we quickly learned, sometimes after waiting months, the result was not always what we’d hoped. But those experiences only fed our desire to try again, tinker with the process, and continue striving for the ideal.

More than a decade later, we are still learning something new with virtually every batch. On those occasions when the magic happens, it leads to some pretty amazing places. The possibility - of catching lightning in a bottle, or within a salami casing - is enticing. That is what will forever thrill us about the art of cured meats.


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