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La Cinta Senese

The Tuscan Heirloom Pig


Cinta Senese: Siena's classic heirloom pig

Cinta Senese: Siena's classic heirloom pig

© Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com
Most cold cuts start from a pig, and though there were once many many breeds of pig in Italy (elsewhere too), now if you talk with those who make cold cuts you'll hear a relatively small number of breeds mentioned, one of the most popular being the Large White. Or a cross between a Large White and something else.

But you still can find other breeds, and in Tuscany the breed of choice that people are willing to pay considerably more for is the Cinta Senese, or Sienese Banded, whose name makes perfect sense when you see it pictured. It's an old breed, appearing in the Allegoria del Buon Governo (Allegory of Good Government) Ambrogio Lorenzetti painted in Siena's Town hall in the late 1330s, and is now quite popular with small farmers.

How to tell if the cold cut is really Cinta Senese? With salame or salamino you have to trust the butcher, but with prosciutto, look at the foot -- the Cinta Senese has black hind hooves, and most producers leave them on the prosciutto as proof of the breed.

A general overview of salumi, Italian cold cuts.
Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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