Getting hooked on salami
Salami season has opened and that means buying supplies so that friends can gather over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend to socialise and create their own traditions.
Paola Marafio is an excellent saleswoman and knows how passionate customers are about their artisan products.
A discussion can last for five minutes about the size of hook required to hang a salami off a pole.
“We’re open seven days a week from passata season to the end of September,” she said, to cater for the growing number of people involved in artisan projects.
Many customers are beginners and need nurturing as they embark upon the artisan journey.
Sure, it’s business for The Artisan’s Bottega at Victoria St in West Melbourne but it’s also an increasingly popular community and family activity.
“We’re getting a lot of younger Australians trying this season,” Paola said. “I think when they were locked up people needed something to do for their mental peace of mind.”
The traditions were brought here by European migrants in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s.
Boyd Atkin got into making salami because his grandfather worked with migrants on the power lines. This had a good impact on his eating habits as a kid with fresh vegetables and fruit from the Queen Victoria Market.
Now, Boyd is an avid salami-maker. Salami-making is his way of getting his act together and meeting mates for a positive activity.
In the early days he hung up his salami in a garden shed. “It was a really warm winter six or seven years ago and they failed.”
How you hung them was crucial, he said. They are better in a larger shed with a higher roof so the warm air rises.
Salami needs cool weather. Even then, it can develop a mould. That’s why hooks are preferable to string. You can get them down easily to wipe off the mould with water and vinegar.
Hanging options are just one of the decisions for the salami-maker. Others include spice mix, type of skins and the source of meat.
“It sounds complicated but it’s not,” Paola said reassuringly. It’s her job to talk customers through all of their decision-making.
Skins can be made of the actual bowel wall or collagen, which becomes pliable when put in warm water.
Once customers get into making, they branch out. Limoncello is another product and Boyd boasts a 60-year-old lemon tree.
“That means the roots have set and it produces fruit all year around,” Paola said with admiration. •
Caption: Paola demonstrates salami hanging methods to Boyd.