Gourmandistan

Spuma spurs slight civil unrest in Gourmandistan.

Pig butter

Mutterings of dissent can still be heard every time the refrigerator opens and the speckled, pinkly pale jar of spuma is spied. Its funky, fatty taste did not please Michelle’s palate at all.

Despite Steve’s insistence that ceviche, salami and sun-dried tomatoes prove the world agrees that “cured means cooked,” Michelle could not get past the idea she was eating “raw bacon.” Steve’s admission that he’d happily sampled “raw” bacon as a child further sickened Michelle, who had already decided she really, really didn’t like spuma. Even adding toasted crostini with a smear of roasted garlic and a liberal sprinkling of fresh chives couldn’t drive the idea of “raw bacon butter” out of her mind. Steve, who has eaten many things (such as pigeon, beef, bone marrow and fresh fruit) at stages Michelle considers disgustingly undercooked, thought the puréed guanciale and ricotta mix was decadently delicious—a salty snack fit for the title of “pig butter” bestowed on it by Brian Polcyn in Salumi, co-written with Steve’s self-made-sausage-inspirer Michael Ruhlman.

And thus, conflict was born. Until now, we have presented a united front—each dish we’ve described to this point on the blog has been mutually  enjoyed, and we have both agreed people might like to hear about it. Spuma has shattered this serene state.

We’re not certain if anyone other than Ruhlman fanboys like Steve will replicate this recipe, if for no other reason than that guanciale (particularly home-cured) is hard to come by. But should you decide to make some yourself, you can also stir your spuma into scrambled eggs, as the cookbook suggests. Though, having tried it, Steve thinks cooking with spuma would be better without the added ricotta.

A fragile truce holds in Gourmandistan, but a line has been irrevocably crossed. The next flashpoint may be Michelle’s beloved (and Steve’s loathed) veal or chicken liver, or perhaps a meatless cutlet. Whatever it is, our world will never be the same.

SPUMA DI GOTA

(slightly adapted from Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing)

  • 4 oz. semi-frozen guanciale, finely diced
  • 1/8 c. ricotta cheese

Put the diced guanciale in a food processor and process until pasty. Add ricotta and process again, blending until a smooth paste with tiny flecks forms.

Serve on toasted bread, over a smear of roasted garlic with chopped chives sprinkled over.  (If you must. -Michelle)

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39 comments

  1. Hmm. Although I agree that raw bacon is about as unappealing food that was ever put on this planet, that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t find Spuma to be a tasty treat. I, therefore, cannot cast a vote on either side. I will, however, use some of my guanciale to create my first bit of Spuma — and I’ll tell no one whether I enjoy it. I enjoy my visits to Gourmandistan and don’t wish to risk alienating any segment of the population.

  2. My wife and I got into it over exactly the same issue, back in the days when pancetta was not yet a household word, we were in Provence and encountered a street vendor making panini on the spot with blanched, thinly sliced potatoes, Cantal cheese and pancetta. Despite Jody’s assurances, and the delicious taste of the panini, I couldn’t quite get past the fact that I was eating “raw” pancetta. Today, no problem, but back then… By the way, check out our next post of domestic disputes in the kitchen. Must be that time of year. Ken

  3. Oooh, it’s a tough one, one person’s raw meat is another’s jamon iberico… ;) I’d definitely give it a go as I do love me a bit of raw, salty food (oysters anyone?). But whether I would enjoy it as much as a good old fashioned bit of air-dried ham remains to be seen. I fear the texture might put me off a little.

  4. I had a similar civil unrest situation break out with an old boyfriend. It wasn’t over spuma but rather warm vinaigrette made with bacon fat. He totally rebelled and had a reaction that seemed irrational if not insane. As you can imagine, I was pro-hot fat vinaigrette!

  5. Please pass the raw bacon. The figs and apricot in the photo would be lovely, sliced, on top, with a little drizzle of honey or fine olive oil. This is a beautiful appetizer, and it could be a meal with that Côtes du Rhône and a big, decadent salad!

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