Mortadella

Mortadella
Mortadella is an Italian cured sausage, resembling bologna in size and appearance. It is made of pork that is first ground and then mashed into a paste, and may get its name from the Roman word for 'mortar'.
A mortar and pestle were once commonly used to crush meats, fruits and grain.

In addition to pork meat, mortadella is studded with pork fat taken from the throat of the pig. It is spiced with pepper, and may also contain myrtle berries and coriander. In Italy, mortadella is often studded with pistachios or pine nuts. As prepared in Italy, it is cooked for several hours at a low temperature, with low humidity. After baking, mortadella must be refrigerated, but can keep for up to eight months.

Mortadella was and is still most frequently produced in Bologna, Italy. There are records from the 14th century mentioning Mortadella. An estimated 160,000 tons are consumed in Italy each year.

In most cases in the US, mortadella is sliced as thick as bologna, but Italians prefer to serve this sausage very thinly sliced. Even though the fat pieces may look ominous to dieters, mortadella does not contain an overwhelming amount of saturated fat. Each slice has approximately 9% saturated fat, but an overall 28% fat content.

In Italy, mortadella is a popular sandwich ingredient, often combined with provolone cheese in a panino. Mortadella is also used as one of the meats in antipasto dishes, where it may be topped off with a thin layer of olive oil. Most US submarine sandwich restaurants use mortadella, along with Genoa salami, ham and provolone cheese, to produce the well loved Italian submarine sandwich. Europeans outside of Italy use mortadella frequently and are the largest consumers of mortadella outside of Italy. Mortadella is also popular in Brazil and Argentina, and its market in the United States is experiencing significant growth.

Most gourmets eschew American-made mortadella, unless it is made in the Italian style. Part of this may be due to the US tendency to serve mortadella in such thick slices, where the spice and fat may be overbearing. Throughout the US, Italian and other European markets and delis often offer more traditional mortadella.

If one cannot find mortadella that appeals locally, it can be ordered from various American suppliers online. The Internet also gives one the opportunity to order the classic Mortadella straight from Bologna. However, investment in a slicer may be necessary to achieve the classic serving style.
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