While the rest of Washington has been brought to a standstill by scandals and partisan gridlock, there’s one issue our nations leaders are making real progress on: cured meats.
NPR reports that at the end of May, the USDA will lift its 40-year ban on the import of Italian salumi from areas that were once restricted due to the presence of swine vesicular disease, including some of the country’s most famous meat-curing regions of the North. The U.S. has upheld a ban on all Italian pork products except for prosciutto di Parma, prosciutto di San Daniele, and mortadella since the 1970s.
According to NPR:
Starting soon, as long as they receive USDA approval, hundreds of artisanal products will arrive on American tables. It’s not yet clear, however, what standards the producers will have to meet and what the costs will be. But even without a ban, Italian cured meat producers must pay hefty fees as part of the process of getting certified for importation.
The Los Angeles Times adds that:
Among the most sought-after products benefiting from the ban will be culatello, a cult item from the Parma region of Emilia-Romagna that is made by curing the "heart" of a ham. It is extremely expensive, even in Italy.
But not all imports will be so rarefied. Indeed, perhaps the biggest beneficiary could be the wide range of cured sausages generically referred to as salami. There are hundreds of varieties of these; seemingly every town has at least one it calls its own.
Some towns in southern and central Italy, however, where the disease is still present will still face a ban, including Colonatta in Tuscany, home to the world’s most famous producers of lardo, "back fat cured with rosemary and spices," according to the Times. Troubling for foodies, this comes as welcome news for those concerned about America’s accelerating obesity epidemic.