We made our pilgrimage to Naturalmente Lunigiana today. You never know exactly what you’ll find there, except some folks who are very proud of making food the old way, using only components that a normal person would call “food.”
Besides a leg of Zeri lamb, some fresh, glaringly white goat cheese, some unwashed eggs direct from the hens, and some pecorino cheese, we came back with some head in a box, too. Yes, it’s the famous Lunigiana version of Testa in Cassetta which means the very same thing except in Italian. It’s also called sopresatta in the Lunigiana. Tuscan sporesatta is different than the salami called sopresatta made in the south. These are confusing issues if you’re used to the paltry salumi choices in your US store.
Anyway, here’s how they make it. They boil up a pig head for a very long time. They take out the bones (well, most of them anyway) and put them in a box with a little of the broth. They weigh it down and wait until it becomes a gelatinous whole.
And there you have it. Most versions use some spices and are a lot more gelatinous than the one we had (shown in the picture on a piece of dark Lunigiana bread with just a touch of mustard underneath). This version of testa in cassetta concentrates on the awesome piggyness of it all. It’s not that garish pink you are used to because they don’t add colors or preservatives other than salt. Food isn’t a painting, usually.
So it makes a butt-ugly picture. But who cares? You can taste the porkiness. That’s pretty much all that counts.
You gotta come to Tuscany and try some of this stuff. Trust me, if you like food, a week or so is all you need to become a radical foodie who knows it is a disgrace and an act against God to transform and then confine like a common criminal a good pig so what’s left is tasteless “other white meat.”