What Is Salami, Really?

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Salami isn’t just for cartoon dogs to clutch in their teeth as a butcher chases them out of their shop wielding a big cleaver. It’s for eating, too. Firmly atop the cured meat pyramid, salami has been a deli counter standby for ages, and for good reason: It’s pretty darn tasty. 

The delicious little slices of it are perfect for charcuterie boards, Italian subs, and leaving on the hood of your high school principal’s car overnight to make the paint strip off. That ought to teach him to cancel the band trip due to “budgetary restraints!” But what is salami, exactly? 

What is salami made of? 

Salami is a cured sausage, which is made from fermented and/or air-dried meat, usually hung in humid conditions for up to three days. Other ingredients include garlic, minced fat, salt, white pepper, herbs, yeast, vinegar, and wine. 

Salami casings are typically edible, and are most often the cleaned out intestinal lining of whatever animal was used for the meat (usually pig, but more on that below). My sincere apologies if using the term “cleaned out intestinal lining” in a food article makes it seem less appetizing, but it’s my sworn duty to report the facts. Just picture it like it’s a one of those long “balloon animal” balloons, but filled with meat and not twisted into a giraffe shape.  

Is salami pork? What meat is salami?

Salami is almost always made with pork, but there are popular beef varieties, as well, and there are some more exotic salamis out there, too. For instance, goose meat is used for salami in certain areas of northern Italy. And in the Provence region of France, salami made from donkey meat is sold in street markets. 

You can also find vegan salami made with fig or seasoned wheat gluten. Or, if you’re particularly lazy, just cut up a cucumber and call that vegan salami. The fellas at the Super Bowl party won’t know the difference if you also provide enough beer. 

Where does salami come from? 

Mine usually comes from the supermarket deli aisle… Ohhh, you mean where does it COME from, I understand the question now. Salami originated in Italy, but quickly became popular all over Europe due to its ability to be stored at room temperature for up to 45 days once cut, supplementing a potentially modest or inconsistent supply of fresh meat. 

Salami is a fantastic addition to your grocery list, and will liven up any dish that needs a salty, cured kick in the pants. Try it in scrambled eggs, throw it on a sandwich, or just have a few slices plain, it’s delectable! Oh, just don’t actually do that car hood thing on your own vehicle, it really will strip the paint off. Science certainly is a wonder! 

best salami

Best Salami at the Grocery Store

Now that you know all about salami, find out what the best grocery store salami is.

About the Author

Joe Rumrill

Joe Rumrill is a fictional one-eyed spinach-loving sailor created in 1929 by E.C Se- Wait, no, that's not right... Joe Rumrill is a stand up comedian and writer currently based in Los Angeles. His favorite thing about food is a close tie between the taste and the nutrients one gets from it. His least favorite thing about it is the "gritty, dirt-like quality some food has", but he's most likely referring to the time in third grade he was dared to eat playground sand.

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