The Rare Medieval Salami Celebrities Are Going Ham For

Salami might be a well-known commodity to anyone who frequents the deli section of grocery stores. But before it reaches store shelves, the ingredients that comprise salami have to go through several steps. According to Spoon University, the familiar meat usually starts out as a mixture of ground beef or pork, plus spices and animal fat. Then, as the outlet explains, salami goes through a fermentation process. The length of time that the meat spends fermenting can create differences in taste and texture, with drier salamis having been fermented longer than less-dry ones.

Anyone who loves cured meats or has experience putting together charcuterie boards knows that some varieties can carry a heftier price tag than others. For example, Iberico ham from Spain can fetch a pretty penny — it sells for as much as $4,500 a leg, according to Insider. It's far from the only expensive cured meat out there; Italy has been producing a lesser-known salami worth splurging on for quite some time, and it's even found a fanbase in the world of celebrities.

Culatello is a salami with VIP clientele

The list of specifications that go into making culatello, the crème de la crème of salami, is seemingly endless. According to Italy Bite, PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) Culatello di Zibello has to be made between October and February in a particular region from the same pig breeds approved to make Parma dry-cured ham. Furthermore, the outlet reveals that the salami must be aged in cellars without refrigeration for at least 18 months, with the resulting price tag reflecting the lengthy production process.

While culatello's roots go back to the Middle Ages in Italy, the cured meat was only introduced to the United States in 2017, according to Food & Wine, and now faux-varieties missing that "PDO" status are being made stateside. The outlet explains that in Italy, Antica Corte Pallavicinarelais is one of only 23 official producers of culatello, and it counts celebs like Alain Ducasse, King Charles, and George Clooney as fans. 

As for the taste of culatello, Saveur describes it as being delicate, bold, and smoky at times. For the price tag, eating culatello by itself seems justifiable, and Italy Bite recommends doing so, but also offers up pairing suggestions like Parmigiano Reggiano, Squacquerone cheese, pickled vegetables, and buttered Micca bread (also from Parma, of course). A shindig featuring this A-list salami sounds like something we'd like in on, and — just putting it out there — if Clooney happens to call with the invite, we're happy to bring the wine!