What do you know about Tuscan “finocchiona”?
Finocchiona is a typical Tuscan speciality, with the IGP certification that can be produced “ within the whole territory of Tuscany, […] that represent the main area of production of this typical cured meat.”
Finocchiona: its characteristics
According to the Code of production “it is characterized by a unique and strong aroma of fennel seeds and flowers used in the dough (from here comes from the name “finocchiona”) besides the local and careful treatment that give to the slice a peculiar freshness that is slightly crumbly”.
To produce finocchiona “it is possible to use exclusively the following pieces: boned and cleaned shoulder, ham leftovers, sirloin, throat without glands, lean meat, neck, and belly”.
Adding, then, salt, pepper, garlic and of course, fennel seeds. Finocchiona is made grinding finely the different cuts of the pork, together with other ingredients. After that the dough is put in the beef bowel that is thicker than the pork one. The ageing lasts from 2 to 5 months.
Finocchiona is excellent on a slice of Tuscan bread, paired with white well-structured wines or young red wines.
There are traces of the production of this cured meat in documents dated back ‘400, but the ‘800 and ‘900 are centuries rich in historical proofs about the use of this word. According to the tradition, “Finocchiona” was born during the medieval time from the pairing of pork and fennel seeds, that at the time costed less than black pepper or other seeds. Moreover they had such an intense perfume that they were able to cover the possible deterioration of meat. The practice of hide the smell of bad food or wine throughout fennel seeds was so spread at that time, that the word “infinocchiare” (like “bamboozle” in English) with the meaning of cheating.
At the end of XIX century, the royal people of Florence used to buy wine from the peasants of the surrounding countryside. They welcome the clients giving them bread, finocchiona and the glass of wine that they would sell them. Thanks to the strong taste of the fennel, the palate of the nobles was “confused” thus the wine seems better.
“Sbriciolona” a variety of “finocchiona”
Do not get wrong, “sbriciolona” is just an industrial variety of finocchiona, less precious and lighter. It is a kind of cured meat typical of Florence, with the aroma of fennel, but less aged and it is crumbly while cutting it, from here the name “sbrisolona”, crumbly indeed.