A new project has been launched to promote EU agricultural products in France, Belgium and Italy. Let’s EAT (European Authentic Taste) is a three-year campaign co-financed by the European Commission which aims to increase consumption of fresh fruit such as peaches and nectarines, kiwis, cherries and apples, as well as cold cuts, as part of a tasty and balanced EU-grown diet. It is being led by the Association of Agricultural Cooperatives of Greece with the Istituto Valorizzazione Salumi Italiani (IVSI) in Italy.
The hope is to change attitudes towards charcuterie and increase consumption of fresh fruit and veg as part of a healthy, balanced diet, which is a key priority for the European Union, especially amongst younger members of the population. The campaign features four brand ambassadors: lifestyle influencer Tanya Gervasi, celebrity chef Carlo Cracco and two sports champions Paola Fraschini and Matteo Eydallin. To prove choosing European products is the way to go, various dinners and events will showcase them in unusual pairings.
The Association of Agricultural Cooperatives of Imathia (ASIAC) is based in northern Greece, in a region that has a long tradition of growing and processing fruit, especially peaches, nectarines, apples, cherries and kiwis. The Institute for the Promotion of Italian Charcuterie (IVSI) is a voluntary non-profit consortium representing the sausage sector and which, through its members, represents all sizes and levels of deli meat producers. Together, the two organisations are promoting the following products:
Cherries are renowned for their deep red colour, succulent flesh, unique aroma and delicious taste. There are more than 1,000 varieties of cherries, of which about 20% are the most eaten. Most of these popular varieties are grown in Greece, where the production of this fruit is about 70,000 tonnes. Northern Greece, in particular, accounts for more than 50% of total Greek production.
Peach and nectarine
Peaches and nectarines are among the iconic summer fruits. New varieties have been bred in recent decades, and include yellow- and white-fleshed fruits. The European Union is the second largest producer of peaches and nectarines, while Greece is in fifth place. The microclimate and the Greek soil are the main factors in the superb quality of flavours and aromas of Greek peaches and nectarines.
Apple, one of the most widespread fruit trees in the world, is grown in Europe in a wide variety of species , and the European Union is a major exporter. Some of the most popular varieties include Red Delicious, Gala and Fuji for red apples, Golden Delicious for yellows and Granny Smith for greens. Greek apples have superior quality, characteristic taste and texture , and a unique aroma. The firm and juicy flesh, the sweet but discreetly tangy taste, the bright and captivating colours make Greek apples the ideal choice for a snack or dessert, at any time of the day.
With their brown fuzzy skin and succulent bright green flesh dotted with tiny edible black seeds, kiwis are distinguished by their unique appearance and taste . In Greece, kiwi production has steadily increased in recent years, making the country the third largest kiwi exporter on the world market. In recent decades, yellow and red varieties have also become popular.
Prosciutto crudo (cured ham)
Considered the ‘prince’ of Italian sausages, Prosciutto Crudo (cured ham) is a seasoned product obtained from selected pork legs, from animals weighing between 160g and 180kg. The shape is elongated, pear-shaped, while the colour is pinkish, uniform and edged with fat. This fragrant meat as a delicate, slightly salty taste. Some of them bear PDO or PGI marks.
Salami has ancient roots: over the centuries, it has evolved into different varieties, to the point of constituting a real ‘family’, with specialties for each region. Italian salamis are distinguished from each other by the type of grinding of meat (which can be fine, medium or coarse), spices and ingredients (garlic, chili, fennel seeds), wine etc. that help to give each type a distinct personality. Meat, fat and all other crushed ingredients are bagged and left to mature. And it is towards the end of ripening that each salami acquires its typical aroma. Salami is bright red with a pinkish-white fat and an intense aroma and strong flavour. There are many Italian salamis, whether fine-grained, such as Milan salami or Naples salami, or medium or coarse-grained, such as Salami Felino PGI, Salame Brianza PDO, Salame Piacentino PDO, Salame di Varzi PDO.
Speck is a typical product of northeastern Italy obtained by smoking and seasoning a raw pork leg. Speck Alto Adige is labelled PGI. One of the secrets of a good speck lies in its smoking, an operation that lasts about ten days and involves the use of non-resinous wood (beech, juniper or ash). The shape of the speck is flattened and stretched, while inside it has a pinkish colour with well-finished fatty parts . Speck has a very distinctive taste, both spicy and smoky. From a gastronomic point of view, it is extremely versatile.
Bresaola – Italy
Bresaola is obtained from cuts of beef legs, dried with salt, pepper, garlic, cinnamon, bay leaves and cloves. It is typical of Northern Italy and only that produced in the province of Sondrio (Lombardy) has the label of Bresaola della Valtellina PGI. It has a bright red colour, with a delicate fragrance including spicy aromas; tastes vary from moderately salty to sweet, while the texture is soft and compact.
Culatello is considered one of the most prestigious deli meats in the Italian tradition. It is obtained from the hind limbs of the pig and is a speciality of the Parma region. Culatello di Zibello has been awarded the European PDO label.
Coppa ou Capocollo
Coppa is typical of Parma and Piacenza, but it is also prepared in other regions of Italy and marketed under different names: in southern Italy, it is often called capocollo and is obtained with slightly different procedures, but it is still the same product. While the Coppa Piacentina and the Capocollo of Calabria have obtained the PDO mark, the Coppa of Parma has obtained the PGI mark. It is prepared from the neck muscles of the pig, with a production process that resembles in many ways that of prosciutto crudo (raw ham). It is red in colour interspersed with pinkish white.
Pancetta, which comes from the belly of the pig, comes in different forms: ‘arrotolata’ (rolled), ‘magretta’ and ‘coppata’, each having a different shape. Pancetta Piacentina and Calabria have been awarded the PDO label. The slices of pancetta are pinkish white to red and the fragrance is delicate, with spices including pepper and cloves, while pancetta from the central and southern regions of Italy are often flavoured with chili, garlic and fennel seeds.
Bacon is obtained from the back of the pig, from animals with well-developed musculature. There are different techniques for producing lard that change from region to region. Among the best known are the bacon of Colonnata, which obtained the PGI mark , and that of Arnad (Valle d’Aosta) which obtained the PDO mark .
Prosciutto cotto (cooked ham)
Cooked ham is obtained from pork legs, boneless, salted and cooked: the legs are the same for the production of raw ham. The cooked ham is round, pale pink and with a thin border of fat. There are also special versions, such as roasted or with herbs.
Mortadella is a uniform pink due to the finely chopped meat and dotted with well-defined white cubes, the ‘lardelli’ (premium fat). The fragrance is slightly spicy, while the taste is full and well balanced, thanks to the presence of lardelli that soften the flavour of the meat. Mortadella has a centuries-old history and is produced using techniques that are unique in the world. In particular, Mortadella Bologna is labelled PGI.
Zampone is a traditional Italian product made from a mixture of pork, rind, fat, salt and spices , stuffed into the skin of the front leg of the pig. Its origin dates back to 1511, when the troops of Pope Giulio II Della Rovere besieged Mirandola (Modena). At the end of the siege, the people of Mirandola were hungry and had only pigs. Not shooting them was a sin: it meant giving them to the enemy, who was now close to entering the city. The idea of one of the cooks of Pic de la Mirandole was to slaughter the pigs, cut the meat and wrap the casings made with the skin of their own limbs. This solution allowed the meat to be preserved for later cooking. Cotechino developed in a similar way. Its production and consumption are typical of the winter months, especially during the Christmas period, but it is a product that deserves greater attention from the consumer all year round.
Like zampone, cotechino is produced from a mixture of lean minced pork meat seasoned with salt, pepper, spices and natural flavours, then embossed in a casing. In addition to the PGI zampone of Modena, the cotechino of Modena has also obtained the PGI mark. Once cooked, it has a beautiful pink colour, with a unique aroma.