The ancient green and black heart of Sicily: Nero dei Nebrodi
In the north of Sicily, there is an amazing and fascinating farm that has recovered an ancient breed of black pig, which provides tender, seasoned meat: the Nero dei Nebrodi.
It’s easy to say “pig”; it’s simple to say “pork,” but behind these words, there is a world of “biodiversity.” That’s why, in Italy, there are different species of pig, with peculiar characteristics that differ from animal to animal depending on the territory in which the animals have been bred. So, if you go to Tuscany, you can find the Cinta Senese, a small pig with a white stripe on its stomach and black legs. In Romagna, you will find the Mora Romagnola. And in Sicily, you will come across the Nero dei Nebrodi.
We’d love to discover, along with you, all the different species of Italian pig (and maybe taste with you the amazing cured meat the pork butchers produce), but today, Kaataa would like to fly with you to the stunning island of Sicily. Here, many years ago, right in the middle of the Nebrodi, the mountain range behind the city of Messina, a breeder decided to recover an old breed of pig to bring it to the present and to the future! We are talking about the Nero dei Nebrodi.
2,500 years ago, Sicily was recognized as the best breeding ground of a wonderful black pig, a sturdy, tasty, wild, and strong animal bred in the mountain forests. The breeding process survived, even after the invasion of Muslims who, for religious reasons, do not invest in pig breeding. Genetic studies prove that the origin of this old breed is Spain.
Indeed, there is a link between the Iberian Pata Negra and the Nero dei Nebrodi; they are related, BUT, with great differences. For example, the fat. The Nero dei Nebrodi is fatter than the Pata Negra, and the flesh has amazing tenderness with a typical seasoned taste.
The way the Nero dei Nebrodi is bred is very unusual and closely linked to the mountains and forests where the pigs are born. The animals live in the wild most of the year, eating what the wood provides. In August and September, due to the high temperatures, they live in an enclosure feeding on natural products sourced by the farmer. The pigs are fed barley, corn, oats, chickpeas, and peas, the keyword being nature. The Nero dei Nebrodi farmers transfer all the flavours of the forest, and all the wild lives of their pigs, to the butcher who provides, to visitors of Nebrodi’s mountains, unforgettable gifts of salami, ham, bacon, lard, mortadella, capocollo, and coppa. This treasure chest of flavours is made in the same way as the animals are bred: naturally. The salami is prepared in natural skin; the hams are trimmed, the sausage is kneaded, the fennel is collected from the woods, the spice mixture is prepared to flavour the products with, the seasoning is forensically balanced, because no product can escape from severe olfactory control of these expert men of the forest.
The work of this farm accidentally reflects perfectly the area where it is located. Indeed, the Nebrodi is a wild, mountainous area in the north of Sicily which displays the same features as 3,000 years ago; time and the evolution of society have never touched this wild and peaceful territory. The deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea is the best-known feature of Sicily, but the deep greens and blacks of the Nebrodi’s forests are the ancient heart, never touched by the peoples of this beautiful island. This is where you will find Nero dei Nerbrodi.
Via Oberdan, 32, Castell’Umberto