Have you tried Zampone of Modena? To taste this specialty in the company of enthusiasts, head for Castelnuovo Rangone, and the annual Superzampone Festival.
Made from the front trotter of a pig, zampone is an Italian New Year's Eve tradition. The trotter is stuffed with a mixture of lean meats, belly and back skin and neck fat, and seasoned with cinnamon, coriander, cumin and cloves. At home, zampone is boiled and served with lentils (for good luck) or stewed white beans, and mashed potatoes.
Since 1989, the Association of Cured Meats Masters in Modena have celebrated their craft with the Super Zampone festival little Castelnuovo di Rangone, not far from Modena. Hugeness, as well as flavor, is the goal: the largest zampone to date weighed in at around almost 1,000 kilos several years ago.
More than 20 local butchers work together to feed several thousand festival-goers. The enormous sausage is cooked in the main square inside a big stainless steel zamponiera. The preparation begins on Wednesday, and by Sunday morning, the zampone is ready. After the mega-trotter is hoisted by crane onto a carving table, the meat is carved with much ceremony, and served with a glass of Lambrusco, another local product.
The Superzampone Festival takes place on the first Sunday in December. It is one of the last food festivals of the autumn season in Emilia Romagna, just one of the many foodie reasons to visit the Modena region.