Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a part of a big Italian family that gets together once a year to pitch in and make salami and sausages? Well I have. I’ve often seen food shows on SBS where they show tomato bottling days, passata days, sausage making days where all the members of the family gather to lend a hand and share in the harvest and the finished product. I’ve watched these shows and been slightly envious. So when the opportunity came to attend a salami and sausage making workshop in the Southern Forests I jumped at the chance.
So on a chilly, winter, July morning I set off for Smithbrook, down a forested country lane, to a shed on a property dotted with sheep and their new lambs, fruit trees heavy with citrus and a vegetable garden that could feed an army. Chris, from Dingup House, had organised this workshop at the home of Bob Perouche, local wine maker and sausage maker extraordinaire. In fact it seems that Bob also makes cheese and does cheese making workshops. A man of many talents. I shall be keeping a watchful eye out for that workshop when it next comes around. Bob comes from a long line of Italians who have been making their own food for years, decades, perhaps even centuries. His father taught him, his grandfather taught his father and so on and so on.
And on that chilly morning in July, twenty rugged up and eager students were going to have all that wonderful knowledge and history passed on to them. And I was one of them. It all starts with good produce:- a free range pig, treated well, fed well; and ends in some fabulous salamis and cooking sausages. We spent the better part of the day learning the technique, the cuts of meat, how much salt to preserve and the tricks that have been passed down from father to son for generations on how to properly prepare and preserve meat into edible morsels.
A break for lunch with free range pork ribs and pork patties freshly prepared, roasted vegetables and fresh salads taken straight from the garden, local wine and of course salami. What a feast. Fresh, rustic and so damn good.
Then back to learning how to prepare cooking sausages with all of us getting to take some home. With a print out of instructions, my own scribbled notes and a phone number to call for trouble shooting I have been inspired. This is one of the amazing things about the Southern Forests: there is so much knowledge down here and so many people willing to share that knowledge. Keep an eye out for workshops like these and you too could be making sausages, salami or cheese just like the best Italian families have been doing for generations.