Fair warning: if you are vegetarian or at all squeamish about meat, I’d say this is not the blog post for you. Although there are some photos of pretty sunsets and dinner tables too!
A few years ago, we dipped our toe into the salami making weekend fiesta which Matt’s cousin and her husband partake in – truth be told Jyoti was once a vegetarian!
Then she married Josh.
(Sidenote: I shot their wedding photos).
Matt, always keen to be in on any butchering activities, has since been an enthusiastic helper in the salami making each June. I’d like to think he is a welcome help – there’s a whooooole lot of pig to cut up (two pig’s actually) and sort through which meat will be needed for the salami, sausages, our porchetta for dinner, bones for stock, a ham, blood for blood sausage, and so on and so on… As you can imagine, it’s quite the feat. This year we didn’t arrive until Saturday afternoon (typical token ring in’s!) but usually it’s at least a 3-4 day event. Much planning and child wrangling, there were six little girls amongst us, from ‘baby’ Esperanza at 18 months up to ‘big girl’ Rosalia. Throw a few pigs in the mix = busy. Although this year there was a decidedly relaxed pace. Previous years, Josh and his salami making mate Michael have hired the kitchen at the Inverloch community hub – pretty handy having a commercial kitchen, and as Jyoti’s parents and Matt’s parents are both in Inverloch, we could come and go to help/child mind. This year though Jyoti and Josh have bought a farm – Matt and Jyoti’s grandparents farm no less (read all about that here). So this year was, I’m sure the first of many: the inaugural Westlands Salami Weekend.
Having butchered our own lamb and beef before, I’m no stranger to breaking up an animal – and Matt likes the methodical process of butchering and preparing meat. Salami and sausage making is obviously entirely different to breaking down/dressing a lamb though. Using every part of the animal, or most of it, is pretty rewarding though – preparing all of this with other families, knowing these sausages will become our girls’ dinners. They’re not exactly Coles sausages though – I’d hate to know if we had to put a price on them – ha! We joked that salami weekend really puts the slooooowww in slow food movement. Food sovereignty, and teaching that to Eleanor, Harriet, Avani, Esperanza, Rosalia and Lucia – who were watching the whole process and (I hope) were taking it all in, I would say was important to all of us.
The lovely part of salami weekend isn’t just in the actual salami making – it’s in the spending time with family (and meeting Cat in real life!), doing very simple things, eating, drinking, playing with cousins, preparing food together and sharing a beer or nip of whiskey to keep that South Gippy chill factor at bay in the shed! Now that this is perhaps our third or fourth year making salami, and with a more permanent home for Josh to entertain his charcuterie hobby, I would love for this weekend to be a permanent fixture on our family calendar – a regular tradition that our children look forward to, and look back on as adults: “Remember the salami weekends at Westlands?!” Somewhat like my siblings and I do now about Good Friday ‘down the creek’.
I’m sure, no I know, this is exactly why Jyoti and Josh made a giant leap of faith in ‘becoming farmers’. This is what they envisaged, these weekends of mammoth work but mammoth reward. Full hearts and full tummies – all for the love of salami! As good excuse as any, I say. Traditions like this are made a bit more special and rewarding when you share them with likeminded sorts like Jyoti and Josh, Michael and Cat, and their girls – we’re all at that same stage in life, juggling parenting and working and somehow finding a balance (maybe?) Making salami for three days straight was just what the doctor (no pun intended J&J 😉 ) ordered. We brought the camper trailer and the girls snuggled in there overnight, after baths and giggles with cousins and new friends, woken in the morning with a brisk Kardella frost, running inside to warm little toes by the fire.
Special times in a special place with some special people.
Do you dabble in salami making this time of year? ‘Tis the season!
Or have a family traditional weekend of preparing food you hold fond memories of?
One thing is for sure: I highly doubt whether Matt and Jyoti’s Nan and Pop were thinking that their great-grandchildren would be helping to make sausages in their hay shed one day! But, there they are all the same.