Finocchiona is a superbly spiced meat, and one of the best pork products in Tuscany, Italy. The scented and softer salami is a centuries-old product, and unique in that it includes wild fennel seeds giving it an additional ‘zing’. Finnochio in Italian means “fennel.” Depending on the size of the sausage, aging period of the meat ranges from five months to a year. There is a younger version of the sausage, finocchiona sbriciolona, that is aged a mere one to two months, lending the texture less firm and less dense.
There are a couple different origin stories of Finnocchiona
Some say that due to the higher price of pepper in the Middle Ages, fennel seed seasoning was born out of necessity in the Chianti region and in Florence as a thrifty alternative. Others claim a more fantastical anecdotal origin. Legend has it that a thief stole a fresh salami from a festive fair near the town of Prato, and hid the treasure among a stand of wild fennel. Once the thief returned to the scene of the salami crime, he noticed that the meat absorbed the delicious flavors and aroma of the wild fennel!
The finocchiona was a huge hit among the public as early as the fifteenth century.
Even the nobility was said to have enjoyed the salami, among them the prestigious Machiavelli! Resourceful and crafty Chianti winemakers took advantage of the salami’s notable amounts of fennel for its menthol content. The menthol provided slightly anesthetic qualities and masked the taste of poorer quality wines.
Ingredients have expanded far beyond meat, salt, and fennel. Similar to our products, many meat cutters add garlic, pepper, thyme, and sesame seed. On the east coast of the United States, salami makers tend to use more spices than their European counterparts. In North America, many mistake fennel with anise. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of United Nations, India produces more fennel than any two countries. Mexico produces the second most fennel after India, and Mexicans use fennel more per capita.
Our finocchiona is called the Flagrant Seed
Do you like fennel or anise in your cooking? Let us know!