After our trip to Acetaia La Bonissima, our journeys went on, always dedicated to tradition: this time we went out of the borders of our region and we got to Terrassa Padovana, where the Bazza company is located.
In an industrial zone, not very “poetic” – word and concept often used by Giovanni (called Vanni), owner of the company – it stands the small Bazza plant, a real treasure chest filled with tradition, the cold cuts artisan’s kingdom.
Born in a family of generations of butchers, Vanni Bazza himself, when he was only 14 years old, started working in one of the most famous butcher shops of the area – also equipped with a laboratory where he had the chance to learn the first basics of meat processing.
After some changes in his working life, when he still was very young, he opened his own first butcher shop, then a second one, but he finally decided to close both of them because – with the arrival in town of a big supermarket – he wasn’t able to sell his products anymore.
At that point he decided to take a big leap and do his utmost opening a laboratory where he dedicated himself only to the production of salami. As it often happens to those who have the courage to start an activity that goes “against the tide”, the first years have been very difficult, so that he thought to close also the laboratory down.
But then it made the scene an element of “lucky coincidence” that brought to a positive change and to a happy ending – as it happens in all the best fairy tales.
Vanni met Giorgio Onesti, a famous discoverer of Italian food excellences, who tasted his product and simply asked him: “Can you make it even better?”.
At that point he realized that it was the right moment to completely revolutionize his production: he gave all the salami he had in the warehouse away, he began studying their chemistry and he restarted all over again.
The proof that that was the direction to follow came from Giorgio himself, who liked his salami so much that he started selling them in different parts of the Italian boot… when Vanni didn’t even know how to ship them!
From then on, the cold cuts artisan career has been an escalation: now his products are sold everywhere in Italy (and also in a shop in Stockholm) and everyone acknowledges their outstanding quality.
But what makes these cold cuts so unique?
The first secret surely is the specialization: Bazza’s cured pork meat factory produces almost only salami and soppressa, apart from smaller quantities of other cold cuts – both seasoned (coppa and pancetta) and raw (zampone, cotechino and bondiola). If you’re an expert in the field, you will probably have better results than those who do and know (or think to know) a little bit of everything.
The second secret, as we often underlined, is the choice to use first quality ingredients, selected with attention and awareness. A few elements, all of them natural, and an apparently simple processing that repeats the traditional one – but making it “modern” thanks to all the chemical knowledge that stand behind the natural cold cuts production. In other words, it’s a rediscovery of tradition through scientific means.
Let’s consider salami as an exemple: they were the first born in Bazza’s cured pork meat factory and they still are the main product. Their only ingredients are pork meat (thigh and bacon), salt and pepper – with the addition of garlic in one of the two kinds of salami. No niters, no preservatives, no flour (grain, milk or animal), no sugar, no water – all of these are added in the industrial production.
This choice obviously requires the need to pay absolute attention to every detail, from the selection of the meat to the processing, in order to obtain an excellent product without external “help” – which is dangerous for the consumer’s health.
Vanni perfectly explained us all the chemical “behind-the-scenes” of the salami production, especially regarding the bacterial formation within the processed meat. There are “bad” and “good” bacteria (the second ones are necessary for the meat fermentation and seasoning) and, without the niters’ help, everything is up to how you choose and handle meat, as well as the timing and temperatures of the different production steps.
In Bazza’s particular case, when the meat (of the rear part of the pig, less polluted by the butchery) arrives in the sterilized spaces of the laboratory, it’s kept and grinded at very low temperatures, then put into sterilized natural sausage skins, hand-tied one by one.
The following step is the drip, which imitates the kitchens where our grandfathers used to keep the fresh salami: in the shortest time possible, so that harmful bacteria can’t grow, the very cold meat has to get to a temperature of 19 Celsius degrees. In this way, the product obviously loses weight (around 15%) because of the water loss, and the salt within the meat begins to work as a preservative.
After it, it’s time for the drying, which corresponds to the warehousing in our grandfathers’ granary, where the salami are kept to a fresh cellar temperature and on their surface the mold begins to grow – and this is a very positive thing, contrary to the expectations, because it shows that the water went out of the sausage and that bacteria aren’t growing in the inside. Substantially, these molds are a proof of the absence of niters and of the fact that the harmful bacteria are killed in a natural way.
In the end, there’s the conservation and seasoning phase, that lasts about 90 days.
It is clear that a product of this kind, completely genuine and natural, needs absolute attention and devotion – which brings to an increase of the costs and to a necessarily limited production.
Vanni Bazza, driven by a huge passion for his profession and by the continuous desire to grow and improve himself, didn’t get discouraged but, on the contrary, he has been farsighted: his efforts are now completely rewarded thanks to the satisfaction of knowing that his customers are enthusiastic about his cold cuts.
The history of Bazza’s company is not ending here: Enrico, Vanni’s son, is studying food science and technologies in order to deepen the knowledge of those subjects with which his father dealt almost as a self-taught. He inherited his big passion and there’s no doubt about the fact that he will be able to bring that treasure chest filled with tradition straight into the future.
Paola met Vanni almost 20 years ago, and from then on she has been selling his salami at her shop La Delizia. If you want to try them and go back to the past of Italian tradition, you can as always find them in Russi (Ravenna). We are waiting for you!