In my parent’s kitchen there was a hook near the door. It pretty much always had Columbus Italian dry salami hanging from it. It never occurred to me that this was not the case in every house in America. When I was growing up it was my sister who had the sweet tooth, not me. I loved all things savory. I remember asking my mother if people could choose to be vegetarian, could I be a carnivore? I didn’t hate vegetables, I just loved salty foods. I still do. Some of my favorite things when I was young were thick cut potato chips, corn chips, smoked salmon and salami. 
California style Italian dry salami was an integral part of my childhood. I ate fat slabs of salami and thin slices. I ate the crusty ends, peeling off the white dusty paper. I ate it in sandwiches for lunch and for dinner when it was too hot to cook. We used to sit at a picnic table in the Summer on the deck with a big plate of cherry tomatoes, slices of cheese and salami. Take what you want, my mother would say. To us, it wasn’t an antipasto platter but a “take plate.” 
When I had one of my first jobs, working at a gourmet retail shop, I’d head off to a nearby Italian deli for lunch most days. They refused to sell sandwiches but would sell meat sliced to order and rolls and throw in packets of mustard and mayo so you could make a sandwich yourself. Salami with or without mortadella was my fuel and my soul food. Years later when I lived in Italy I discovered many other styles of Italian cured meats and other ways of serving it—proscuitto with Tuscan bread, mortadella draped over warm gnocco frito and various kinds of salami flavored with black pepper or fennel or red chiles. 
Italian dry salami it turns out, is a Bay Area speciality. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, around 1970, local Bay Area salami producers, descendants of salami makers from Milan, Lucca, Parma and Modena formed the Dry Salami Institute and were able to convince the US Department of Agriculture that Italian dry salami should be made according to certain standards and the name protected against inferior products. It is really Italian? That’s hard to say since it’s made in America and has a pungent scent and flavor profile particular to this area. It’s definitely a Californian style of Italian salami and although producers like Columbus make many different varieties such as Calbrese, peppered and sopressata, nothing reminds me of my childhood quite like an Italian dry salami, hanging from a hook.
Salami tips:
Here’s a simple rule—for smaller chubs, cut thicker slices and for larger ones, cut thinner slices. This will allow for the best taste, texture and aroma. 
Although shelf stable, after you cut into a salami, it’s best to store it in the refrigerator to prevent dehydration. Salami needs humidity, so keep it in a moist plastic bag (you can include a wet paper towel in a resealable bag if necessary). 

Salami is often served on an antipasto platter, but consider adding it to a fruit and cheese plate. It pairs well with so many things—nuts, stone fruit, grapes, apples, pears, grilled vegetables and olives. Let salami come to room temperature before serving. 
Disclaimer: My thanks to Columbus for inspiring this post and providing samples. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post on Cooking with Amy. 


DISCLAIMER: This image is provided only for personal use. If you found any images copyrighted to yours, please contact us and we will remove it. We don't intend to display any copyright protected images.

Leave a Reply

Walnut Crusted Chicken Breast – It’s all About the Nut Glue

I almost never order a nut-crusted entrée in a restaurant, since they usually use a sugary glaze to hold them on, and/or feature a too sweet nut, like pecan, or macadamia. That’s not an issue here; since we’re going with buttery, subtly bitter walnuts, held on with a very savory […]

Cheddar, Potato & SPAM® Soup

Cheddar, Potato & SPAM® Soup A hearty, comforting and autumnal warming soup!  Perfect soup for all the family!  SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham is the perfect quick and easy meat for a soup.  Serves 4-6 Prep time:  5 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes Ingredients 450g potatoes, peeled & diced 150g carrots, […]

5-Minute Fisherman’s Stew – Give or Take

Of course this Fisherman’s Stew takes more than five minutes to make, and I’m actually referring to the approximate cooking time once the seafood hits the pan, but as they say, it’s only false advertising if someone else does it. Besides, one taste and I’m sure you’ll forgive any temporal […]

Pear Clafoutis – Almost as Good as it Looks

It sounds odd to say that a recipe’s biggest problem is that it looks too good, but that’s sort of the case with this pear clafoutis. Through no fault of its own, this crust-less, custard fruit tart looks a lot sweeter, and richer than it actually is. So, please be […]

Bloody Mary Burrata – An Experiment in Liquefying Salads

I don’t think there’s actually a difference between a liquid salad, and a cold vegetable soup, but if there is, I’d like this Bloody Mary Burrata recipe to be considered the former. Especially since I already posted a gazpacho this summer. But regardless of what you call this strange hybrid, […]

Crispy Butcher’s Nuggets – Parts is Parts

While our homemade butcher’s nuggets won’t feature the same diversity of meat parts as the butcher shop, at least they won’t feature the same diversity of meat parts. Seriously, those folks will put anything into a sausage or meatball. All kidding aside, these crispy fried meatballs will have you wondering […]

Skippy® Peanut Butter & Jelly Pancakes

Skippy® Peanut Butter & Jelly Pancakes These light and fluffy peanut butter pancakes drizzled with peanut butter and jelly taste absolutely delicious.  The favourite, classic sandwich turned into the tastiest breakfast treat! Serves 4 Prep time:  10 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes Ingredients For the pancakes 200g plain flour 30g caster […]

Chorizo, Red Pepper & Stilton Quiche

Chorizo, Red Pepper & Stilton Quiche This quiche is so easy to make and always goes down well, delicious served hot or cold. If blue cheese doesn’t take your fancy then you can use cheddar or any other hard cheese. Serves 8 Prep time:  10 minutes, Cooking time: 45-50 minutes Ingredients 225g […]

Baked Philly Cheesesteak Sliders – Go Giants!

The Philly Cheesesteak is a simple sandwich to make, as long as you’re making them in a restaurant. To make a proper one, you need a professional meat slicer, and a very hot flattop grill, which aren’t things most people have at home.  That’s why I loved this baked slider […]


strawberries and cream matcha chiffon layer cake HAPPY SUMMER!  There’s nothing like fresh local strawberries in the summer! I created this unique sky-high matcha cake recipe to celebrate my best friend’s birthday as she’s a matcha lover.   I am entering this original recipe I developed for BCEgg (a non-profit organization […]