Questo articolo è il risultato della collaborazione tra SapereFood e Umbra Institute, filiale italiana di alcuni college e università statunitensi con sede a Perugia. Dopo un approfondimento sul settore agroalimentare e sullle tecniche di scrittura giornalistica, gli studenti di Umbra Institute hanno visitato alcune importanti aziende della regione, raccontando la loro esperienza sul campo e contribuendo a diffondere la qualità alimentare dell’Umbria all’estero.
by Erin Welty
The porchetta sandwich is the crown jewel of Umbrian street food, and for unfailingly delicious porchetta, look no further than Giuliano Cariani. Cariani, the owner of Cariani Porchetta Umbra di Bevagna, produces high quality porchetta to sell to street vendors from his factory just outside of Bevagna, Umbria. Giuliano’s father, Enrico, sold pigs on the local market. Twenty years ago, Giuliano started producing porchetta to sell to local vendors. Now, Cariani is one of the most well-respected and well-known porchetta producers in central Italy.
The production of porchetta is an ancient practice native to the Umbria region. To make traditional porchetta, a pig is deboned, gutted, stuffed with seasonings, garlic, and sometimes the pig’s liver, and then roasted whole until its outer skin is delicately crispy. The aromatic pork is then cut in thin slices to be enjoyed immediately, usually between two pieces of crispy bread. The simplicity of the components – only porchetta and bread – requires high quality, flavorful, moist porchetta. A good porchetta sandwich accompanied by a cup of local red wine, while not complicated or expensive, is a must-have meal while in Umbria.
In the past, Umbrian communities enjoyed porchetta as communal festival food. Now, as one of Umbria’s most beloved street foods, porchetta’s folk roots live on. Although Cariani’s primary customer is street vendors, he says that his porchetta is also in demand for weddings as a casual, delicious meal for a large gathering to enjoy together. Porchetta’s celebratory, communal history is truly palpable in Cariani’s product. Whether at a street stand on an Umbrian sidewalk, amid friends and family at a wedding celebration, or casually around a plastic table inside of Cariani’s factory in Bevagna, his porchetta continues to bring people together.
Cariani’s knowledge of porchetta production originated from conversations with the local vendors to whom his father used to sell pigs. These vendors had been making porchetta for years, and each had his own variation on the method, largely particular to individual localities’ traditions. From these mines of local knowledge, Cariani developed his own method that would honor and preserve the rapidly-vanishing folk knowledge of traditional porchetta production. The Cariani Porchetta factory utilizes some modern machinery for cleanliness and efficiency, but the hands of the producer still lie at the heart of production in Cariani’s process. The gutting, stuffing, tying, and cooking of the pig require personal care from the expert porchetta craftsmen who work at Cariani’s small factory. Cariani also maintains a tried-and-true traditional recipe for the stuffing of his porchetta, which includes garlic, salt, pepper, fennel, and roughly chopped liver. In everything, Cariani shows deep care for preserving the cultural knowledge of porchetta production in Umbria.
Although the average passerby who stops at a porchetta stand for lunch may not know the face of Cariani, they will come to know his dedication to quality and tradition with a taste of his porchetta. Enjoying slices of Giuliano Cariani’s porchetta on some pieces of crispy bread is a precious opportunity to partake in one of Umbria’s most convivial – and delicious – folk traditions.