Porchetta Cariani. Teaching an American a lesson in Italian tradition

This article is the result of the collaboration between SapereFood and Umbra Institute, an Italian branch of some US colleges and universities based in Perugia. After an in-depth analysis of the agri-food sector and journalistic writing techniques, the Umbra Institute students visited some important companies in the region, telling their experience in the field and contributing to spreading the food quality of Umbria abroad.

by Jenna Leva

An unassuming man wearing a big smile and green sweater basks over a massive piece of porchetta as he puts together dozens of sandwiches for his first group of visitors. This man is Giuliano Cariani and he gets just as excited when eating porchetta as he does when describing the history and tradition behind this Umbrian delicacy. Cariani Porchetta is a large factory filled with giant ovens and situated in the rolling hills of Bevagna, a small town outside of Perugia.

Giuliano Cariani has been creating and selling porchetta to street vendors for over 30 years, ever since he was inspired to start the business after growing up around the pigs his father raised. When asked whether working with porchetta for so long has turned him against porchetta, Cariani was adamant that he does not get tired of eating the Italian street food and still loves to eat porchetta.

There are no bright signs directing you toward this porchetta producer nor do you feel like you will be just another face in a crowd of people touring the factory. Cariani and his employees are very down to earth and just want to show every person the simplistic beauty of porchetta. The smell of freshly roasted porchetta and the welcoming smile of Giuliano Cariani join together to create a comforting atmosphere. They want to make sure that anyone who has the chance to eat their porchetta embraces it wholly. The people of Cariani Porchetta are what make the difference in eating porchetta. From their skillful work and their deep love and respect for tradition, every bite of porchetta helps to further realize a tradition that has been celebrated in Umbria for centuries.

Porchetta is a traditional Umbrian dish that is eaten all over Italy. A whole pig is stuffed with its liver, garlic, fennel, and other herbs. It is then put on a large spit and roasted in the oven for hours. As explained by Giuliano Cariani, porchetta can only be served cold, with a bit of salt, and is best in a panino with a glass of red wine. Cariani’s porchetta was artfully prepared by a expert butcher who has worked with pork since he was a teenager. Watching the butcher’s use their knife gives the sense of watching a great artist like Picasso working with a paintbrush. After years of breaking down pigs, all of the butchers know exactly where to cut and how to move the knife with precision. Every step of the process is done by hand and it is something Cariani Porchetta takes a lot of pride in. They have big, industrial ovens and freezers the size of rooms yet the crucial parts of creating porchetta, like seasoning the meat and deboning the pig, are all done by hand.

As you taste the perfectly cooked porchetta, there is more than just garlic and salt in the meat. The tradition of Cariani’s family is there along with the dedication of employees. Most of all you can feel the warm spirit that Cariani exuberates, especially as he wraps extra porchetta panini in napkins so that his visitors can enjoy them on the ride home. A visit to Cariani Porchetta is a unique experience in that you won’t be inundated with promotional advertisements or feel pressured to purchase a whole piece of porchetta from Giuliano Cariani before you leave. The experience is about learning the tradition behind porchetta and embracing a food that Cariani has put so much love and attention into for years.

Porchetta is a traditional Umbrian dish that is eaten all over Italy. Teaching An American A Lesson In Italian Tradition

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