The World On A Plate


The World’s Piggest Festival – San Daniele del Friuli, Italy


When the warm weather sets in, thoughts in Northern Italy turn to pig. Or, more accurately, prosciutto. This wafer thin ham is a national obsession, and every year on midsummer’s eve, the small town of San Daniele throws a ham party to end all ham parties.

At the festival, farmers from all over the region show up to showcase their wares. There’s a ham lottery, a ham awards ceremony, and plenty of ham-related music courtesy of local bands. This year there was also a protester in situ, whose tasteful leather placard proclaimed ‘The Pig Is Not What It used To Be!” But tantalisingly neglected to elaborate.

San Daniele is to ham what Southern France is to wine, with a myriad of ham-makers big and small scattered everywhere. As with vineyard hopping, it’s the done thing to pop around sampling from different producers, buying hunks here and there to store at home.

So prior to the evening ham festival I was kindly whisked around several producers, courtesy of PR heavy-weight Cohn&Wolfe, who arranged a three day eat-athon, in which myself and other journalists were never more than half an hour from a thousand calorie meal.

Part of this involved the obligatory tour of the factories in which we were kindly allowed to ruin several hams, by becoming involved in the production process. This included smearing pig fat over the rindless upper thigh of the preserved pig leg (see below, I clearly have a gift).

A successful trip all round, and not only because I got to add to my growing collection of plastic shoes and hairnets.

The Aria de Festa is an annual event on midsummers’ eve.

posted under Italy

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