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Lucanica is a pork sausage, salted and spiced, in natural casings of various diameters. Noble meats are used, which tend to be lean and therefore cut at the point of a knife, to which small lard is added. The spices used to season the meat vary according to the different production areas, the most common being dried pepper powder, wild fennel seeds and coriander. The colour of the meat after the drying period is ruby red, while the lard is milky white. The lucanica has a characteristic ‘U’ shape, the diameter is about 3 cm, the average weight about 400 g and the length 50 cm. It is fragrant and has a good persistence in the mouth, with the aromatic notes of fennel seeds and the complexity of the dried pepper, which can be sweet or spicy.
Lucanica is eaten dried especially as an appetiser, while it is used fresh for the preparation of sauces. It is also often fried with peppers or scrambled eggs. The period of greatest consumption is autumn and winter, but it can also be preserved for a long time in lard or in oil. It is a traditional product of the entire region and is consumed in all Lucanian households. It is used a lot in the rural world for breakfast during work in the countryside. During the Carnival period, children dress up and knock on doors singing nursery rhymes and asking for portions of lucanica and then celebrate by eating it with homemade bread.
After about 24 hours from the preparation of the mixture, consisting of pork, lard, salt and spices, it is stuffed into the casing, which is pricked with large needles to help the air escape. The ends are then tied off. At this point, the lucaniche are hung from long wooden sticks and placed in cold, ventilated rooms. Very often these rooms are equipped with a fireplace: temporary fires are lit to give the sausage its smoky notes and improve its shelf life. The pigs from which the meat comes are almost always reared in a semi-wild state, fed on acorns, maize, bran etc.
We can say with certainty that lucanica is the earliest evidence of salted pork and stuffed into casings. The first written traces are found in the ‘banquets’ of Timachida of Rhodes; later Marcus Terentius Varro in the 1st century BC mentions its production and Lucanian origin in ‘De lingua latina’. The lucanica production technique is also present in the Balkan areas following the deportation of numerous Lucanian families at the hands of Alexander I, King of Epirus. The ‘luganega’ produced in the Alpine valleys of Trento may also be a derivation of ‘lucanica’, because the characteristics and production methods of the product were transferred by the soldiers of instance to Lucania during the Lombard occupations led by Queen Theodolinda.
In the past, lucanica was produced in most Lucanian homes. However, when industrialisation processes involved the region, there was a phenomenon of abandonment of the rural world, thus losing the drying rooms and small farms. Today, there are artisan butchers and small breeders who still produce Lucanica, but industrial products are putting small-scale production into crisis. Fewer and fewer families are active in production, but those few that still produce it preserve the ancient traditional knowledge and the use of high quality meat.

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Nominated by:Paride Leone