Nose to Tail: The Charcuterie Pavilion at Taste | Civil Eats

Nose to Tail: The Charcuterie Pavilion at Taste

There is a new meat culture sweeping the country – a culture that delights in an “All American” bologna sandwich, as long as the bologna is made from pastured animals raised with care. In this new tradition, Old World craftsmanship is respected but also used as a springboard for modern meat interpretations. And the mantra shared by all in this society is the desire to eat the whole animal, nose to tail.

The general name for a range of cured and prepared meats is Charcuterie. Charcuterie techniques like dry-aging and curing were originally used for meat preservation, but since the advent of refrigeration remain popular for the unique and varied flavors that these methods produce.

Charcuterie Taste Pavilion curator Marissa Guggiana’s voice lights up when she starts talking about the producers she’s working with. President of Sonoma Direct Meats, Marissa has strong relationships with many Charcuterie producers. “I tried to pick people who were creating a new American tradition, as well as people who are sustainably minded,” she says. But then adds: “It’s coming from a different place – there’s sort of a rebellious spirit about it.”

Part of this rebelliousness comes from creating unexpected synergies of method or taste. An excellent example is Caw Caw Creek‘s Country Prosciutto. Seasoned with classic Southern country ham flavors, then dry-cured like an Italian prosciutto. Producer Emile DeFelice uses heirloom pigs he grows himself, and calls his hams “just ridiculous,” claiming that they last for years and get better with age. This truly is slow food.

Berkeley Salumi producer Paul Bertolli of Fra’ Mani also likes to take things slow. “A lot of stuff happens seemingly by magic,” he says, referring to the curing and aging process that meat undergoes. Like all modern producers, he has the latest in temperature and humidity controls, but adds, “These are stupid tools compared with the stone cellars in Italy that I initially worked with.” It is the intuition and knowledge of the curemaster that really matters.

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Charcuterie producers from throughout the United States will be bringing their best to sample at Taste. Producers include:

Marche Provisions (Eugene OR)
eccolo (Berkeley CA)
Bovolo (Healdsburg CA)
Cafe Rouge (Berkeley CA)
Fra’ Mani (Berkeley CA)
La Quercia (Norwalk IA)
Fatted Calf (Napa CA)
Sensuous Farms (Sebastopol CA)
Salumi (Seattle WA)
Black Forest Bison Co. (Colorado Springs CO)
Zuke’s Charcuterie (DurhamNC)
Edwards Virgina Ham (Surry VA)
Caw Caw Creek (Columbia SC)
Col. Bill Newsom’s Country Aged Hams (Princeton KY)

Photos by Aya Brackett and Elizabeth Tichenor

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Chef / Ecologist Aaron French is the Environment Editor at Civil Eats. He is the chef of The Sunny Side Cafe and is writing his first book "The Bay Area Homegrown Cookbook" (Voyageur Press, 2011). He has a Masters in Ecology and is currently working toward his MBA at UC Berkeley, with a focus on sustainable business practices. Read more >

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  1. Just wondering how are you assuring that all the meat in the charcuterie pavilion comes from pasture-raised or grass-fed animals and not feedlots or CAFOs? Will you assure that they are all hormone and antibiotic free? I am surprised by the lack of actual producers on this list, as most of the folks listed above are restaurants or butchers, but not producers themselves. Also, charcuterie is mainly a European tradition, so why not a general meat pavilion instead, with things like pulled pork sandwiches, hot dogs, juicy hamburgers, etc. that are a bit more culturally relevant in this country?
  2. marissa guggiana
    Hi Rebecca,
    thanks for the great questions. the producers are a mixture of chefs and wholesale or retail charcuterie makers. while a third listed above are not strictly cure-masters, i wanted to show that a lot of the great cured meats are being made on a very small scale in restaurant walk-ins. many people may not know that the charcuterie plate they have at dinner was made in-house four months before.
    part of the reason for focusing on charcuterie was the logistics of storing fresh meat are much more difficult. more importantly, there is a huge renaissance in cured meats and salumi and it is a form of expression for many people that i feel complements sustainability with its glorification of typically under-utilized cuts.
    you can find more meat dishes at 'slow on the go' where there will be 'fast' food with slow principles.
  3. Anonymous
    Rebecca: Most processors of reasonable size like Fra’ Mani, La Quercia and Salumi use hogs from CAFOs.

    The people who eat highly processed products generally don't care about animal welfare, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, etc. There's no economic incentive for the meat processors to do the sorts of things that you apparently want them to do.
  4. Thanks for your response Marissa, but you did not address the production issues I brought up. If the meat that goes into this fine charcuterie is from CAFOs, then what is the point here? Am I missing something about Slow Food, or have they now embraced production methods as atrocious as gestational crates, sub-therapeautic antibiotics, and liquid manure ponds dotting the countryside? Is Slow Food more about the celebrity chef and the product than the actual process and the primary producers??
  5. marissa guggiana
    all of the producers involved are careful about their sourcing. most have direct relationships with ranches or local producers.
    slow food is about sustainability and good, clean and fair practices. but it isnt a certification or auditing body. its a conversation about how to make things better. every single person/company in this event is committed to improvement.
    we have done the work of vetting our producers but it is about more than checking off a list of values.
    charcuterie improves sustainability by using off cuts or by-products. it also preserves food traditions that are falling by the wayside.
  6. I'm with Rebecca here. A couple of years ago, I attended a press conference at the Ferry Plaza for an organization called Certified Humane. It opened my eyes—eyes which were already pretty open, or so I thought.

    Slow Food doesn't have to be an auditing body, but it can surely present food that reassures its members (of which I am no longer one, being heavily offended by Carlo Petrini's remarks about the "surfing farmer," who is my hard-working friend, Joe Schirmer) are aware of the cleanliness and wholesomeness of their meat. I personally can taste the difference between CAFO pork and pastured pork—because I am fortunate enough to live in Santa Cruz, and have access to Rebecca and Jim's TLC Ranch pork.

    This conversation isn't about "checking off a list of values": it's simply to address the issue: are you offering CLEAN meat, or meat from animals who stand in their own urine and feces all day and night? That truly informs the flavor of the meat, and it's grossly unhealthy.

    I really encourage you to be more transparent in revealing your producers. Come to think of it, I encourage you to ACKNOWLEDGE the producers—they are working grueling hours doing back-breaking work, while the celebrity chef phenomenon is ballooning to ridiculous levels. (I love chefs: don't get me wrong, but I don't revere them as I do my farmers and ranchers.

    But as I understand it, at Terra Madre, at least, the chefs were wined and dined, and the producers (the hard-working ranchers and farmers, etc.) were fed substandard cafeteria slop. I learned that from Rebecca herself. She and her husband had to find restaurants to eat in, so dreadful was the food they were offered by Slow Food.

    Well, I guess I know what I'll be blogging about.
  7. The welfare of animals is not important to me. Profit and looking younger are my greatest concerns....did you know that BOTOX is made from spoiled pork products? Now that is recycling!
  8. Aaron Eckhouse
    Hey, I just wanted to address the claim that La Quercia uses CAFO meat. This is absolutely untrue, as I can attest to personally. My parents own and run the company, and I can tell you that they are committed to using no meat from CAFOs. Not only is it morally objectionable but it makes bad prosciutto. My dad has personally talked to our suppliers and visited farms where they raise the pigs. But if you have any doubts about the provenance of our meat or our production process, you're welcome to come visit and ask my parents directly (or check our list of suppliers). Visitors are welcome to our plant in Norwalk, Iowa. Just be sure to give a little notice, as things are really busy right now (we're in the middle of expanding the production facility)
  9. Hello, my name is Leah Pearl and I served Charcuterie from Marche Restaurant/Provisions (Eugene, Oregon) on Saturday at the pavillion. I'd like to put your minds to rest about the terrine that we brought to the pavillion. The pork was from Laughing Stock Farms and the rabbit is from a local rabbit rancher called Rainshadow El Rancho. These small farms are both within 40 miles of our restaurant and are both committed to sustainability. Everyone I met this weekend at slow food was there because they believe in the movement. I can assure you that we are not celebrities, but hard working small restaurateurs and we were neither wined nor dined by slow food.
    It would have been great to have more informational signage about the producers--but let's keep all of this in perspective. The assumption above that the meat was from disreputable sources isn't fair.
  10. marissa guggiana
    all of our producers were well represented/honored at the event but i leave them to describe their practices. i chose them for a reason but if you have questions about their values, ask them.
    im not trying to evade, i just sincerely dont think its my role as a slow food volunteer to be the spokesperson for the producers. it is my role to enjoy them, to open conversations, to create an umbrella under which we can all have these important conversations. and yes, to honor their work.

    and clearly we have done that, which is very rewarding.
  11. I never named any particular companies as using CAFO meats, but when I searched the websites of several of the southern ham producers, their websites were glaringly vacant of information about their pork producers. In fact there was not a word about them on their websites. So I only asked if they could assure us their pork was not CAFO produced and to please give us more info. on their producers. If they all did that at the event over the weekend, that is fabulous and what I was hoping for. I am just for transparency and truth in advertising....

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