Winner of the James Beard/ KitchenAid Cookbook of the Year 2000 and Winner of the Beard Award for the Best Writing on Food 2000.
March 27, 2023
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Mangia Bene

    The daily consumption of fresh meat began to decline by 1550 as the population was now fully recovered from the Black Death of two centuries before, and, as a result, more land was devoted to the more labor-intensive agriculture rather than stock rearing. As fresh meat consumption declined, the salting of meat grew to supply the men of many ships and to form a part of the meager diet of the poor. Salt meat was important for the crews now beginning to reach the Indies through the Indian Ocean and the ships creeping down the coast of West Africa after Henry the Navigator’s first foray in the 1440s, not to mention the crews about to explode across the Atlantic to discover another world. Salt meat often took the form of sausages, and the sausage peddler in Italian towns was a familiar character. A document from the Spanish Vice-regent in Palermo on January 30, 1415 shows that lamb, pork, or sausages were bought thirteen days out of the month and macaroni only once a month. The sausages were usually purchased from street vendors and eaten for dinner.

    Mediterranean sausages of all kinds are justly famous. Farm families would make their own sausage and sell them in town. Muslim countries knew salt meat and sausages as well, made of lamb or beef such as the dried beef of Turkey, pastirme (the root of our word pastrami), and they were an important part of army rations.

   The historic Mediterranean struggle against hunger resulted in a vast repertoire of fresh, dried, and salted sausages and cured meats. Although the origin of sausages is to be found in the classical period, if not earlier, it was during the Middle Ages that sausage-making abounded. The list of Mediterranean sausages that follows is not meant to be a definitive accounting but rather a large sampling of contemporary sausages, not all of which can be traced historically. To find any of these products in North America, which is not as impossible as might appear at first glance, you might try looking through the links, under "Food Products".

A blood sausage from the Asturia region of Spain made with cow’s blood, bacon, and onions.

Basṭurmā: see pastirme.

A fresh blood sausage from the Tuscany region of Italy made either sweet with pig’s blood, raisins, and pine nuts, or savory with calf’s blood, cheese, and pork.

A large blood sausage from Catalonia made with tongue, pork, and pig’s offal.

Bondiola or bondeina
A kind of capocollo (see entry following). A large, round sausage from the Polesine area of the southern Veneto, this is a stuffed ox intestine or pig’s bladder made with coarsely ground pork, beef, red wine, salt, and black pepper. Sometimes it is smoked for a month or air-dried for two months.

A salt-cured or air-dried beef product from the Valtellina district of Italy. It is made from very lean beef fillet or loin and sliced extremely thin for antipasto.

Butifarra or botifarra
The most common Catalan pork sausage, is spiced with cinnamon, fennel seeds, and black pepper. Botifarra negra is made with pig’s blood.

A butifarra-like pork sausage from the Balearic Islands made with less blood that is firmer and coarser, made with diced rather than chopped meat, with a higher fat content.

A two-month-aged boned rolled shoulder of pork, preserved in saltpeter, salt, black pepper, sugar, nutmeg, and wine. Different varieties are made in the Italian regions of Umbria, Apulia, and Calabria.

Cappello da Prete
An expensive Italian sausage (because of its lengthy and complicated production process) made from meat stuffing similiar to that of zampone but wrapped in a very thin rind from the intestines of the pig. It is served like zampone.

A Milanese sausage of pork sirloin with pork and veal fat, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and spices such as saffron and nutmeg. It is also made with pig’s brains (hence the name; cervella means brain).

A Spanish sausage that seems to have its origins in the Catalan xoriço. There are seventeen officially recognized varieties of chorizo in Catalonia. It is usually made from lean pork, garlic, paprika, red bell peppers, and red chile pepper flakes.

This dry, smoked sausage from the Marches region of Italy is made from very finely chopped lean and fatty pancetta mixed with garlic, salt, and black pepper. It is eaten on pieces of lightly toasted bread.

This Italian sausage is cured for three months and has an earthier taste than does prosciutto. It is made from equal parts of lean and fatty boned pig’s shoulder rolled with saltpeter, salt, black pepper, and nutmeg.

Coppa Senese
A sausage from Siena made from pork seasoned with garlic, orange and lemon rind, cinnamon, caraway seeds, and other spices. It must be consumed as soon as it is made.

A Tuscan sausage made from dry- and smoke-cured beef and wild boar seasoned with ginger.

In northern Italy this sausage is made with coarsely chopped pork rind, lean pork, and pork fatback seasoned with salt, pepper, cloves, and cinnamon, then cured for three weeks.

This sausage from Emilia-Romagna is made from the top round of a pig’s leg stuffed into a pig’s bladder and aged for a year. Bonaventura Angeli in his Historia della città di Parma refers to "culatello" being served in 1322 on the occasion of the wedding of Count Andrea Rossi and Giovanna di San Vitale.

A blood sausage made with chopped meat, potatoes, or pumpkin from the high plains of Spain.

A long, thin, highly flavored smoked pork liver sausage from Corsica, eaten as is or grilled.

A fennel-flavored Tuscan salami made of pork and garlic and aged about one year.

Grive della Langa
A caul fat crépinette from the Piedmont made from beef, pork liver, juniper berries, and nutmeg.

A Greek country pork sausage flavored with orange peel, wine, and oregano.

The general Italian name for all sausages and salami. The word comes from sacco, or bag, referring to the casing.

A small chorizo that is eaten raw or deep-fried.

Jamón de Jabugo
A jamón serrano from the western end of the Sierra Morena mountains in Andalusia.

Jamón Serrano
A cured Andalusian ham much used in Spanish regional cooking; similar to prosciutto.

See Qalaya.

See Qalaya.

See Qalaya.


An Easter specialty, this Rumelian (Greek Macedonia) andouillette is made of lamb or goat offal and seasoned with lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and garlic. It is usually eaten as part of a meze table. Greek Jews might know it as gardoumbes. This Greek sausage lends itself to the Turkish kokoreç, a sausage made of sheep’s lungs.

A fresh Albanian sausage made of lamb’s liver and lungs mixed with beef, onion, and rice.

Kranjska Kobasica
A Slovenian sausage made of pork shoulder, slab bacon, garlic, and black pepper.

See Salchichón.

Longaniza or llangonissa
A Spanish pork sausage seasoned with paprika, cinnamon, aniseed, garlic, and vinegar.

A Corsican charcuterie made from rolled fillet of pork cured in brine with herbs and then dried.

A Greek sausage traditionally made in the countryside after the hirosfagi, the hog slaughter between mid-November and New Year’s Day. Its name derives from the Latin lucanicus, said to be the name of a sausage invented by the Lucanians, a people who lived in southern Italy at the time of its Greek settlement and the Roman Republic (but see the comment below for the entry Luganega).

Loukanika Nissiotika
Long, thin pork sausages from the Greek islands.

A mild Italian sausage with a delicate flavor also called salsiccia a metro because it is sold by the meter. The roots of this sausage can be traced to classical Rome: Varro, Cicero, and Apicius mention it. It is said that the best comes from Monza in Lombardy. Lombardy might also be the birthplace of this sausage, since it also has been argued that the Latin lucanicus derives from a Lombard word, not the name of a southern Italian people. In Basilicata it is called lucanica or lucania, where it is a long, continuously coiled grilled pork sausage flavored with red chili pepper flakes.

A spicy blood sausage from Andalusia.

A spiced Florentine-style blood sausage with raisins, citron (Citrus medica L.), pine nuts, and bread crumbs. It is called buristo in Siena.

Half pork and half beef Greek sausage from Máni in the Peloponnesus seasoned with oregano and mint.


Also spelled naqaniq.

Maties e saffathes
A Greek sausage made of pork, rice, garlic, cumin, and orange peel usually served before a big Christmas meal. It is first boiled, then fried.

A sweet, spit-roasted fresh sausage from Umbria and the Marches made of pig’s liver, sugar, pine nuts, golden raisins, and orange peel.


See mirqaz and 

merguez sausage in depth

Also spelled mirkās in Arabic, but usually transliterated as merguez.  It is a Tunisian sausage of lamb or beef and spices, known in Algeria and Morocco.

This specialty of the Val d’Aosta in northern Italy is a cured goat thigh sausage flavored with garlic, herbs, juniper berries, and black pepper. It is salted for twenty days, then hung for four months. It is very hard and needs to be eaten within a year.

This is a Spanish blood sausage stuffed with rice, paprika, onions, garlic, and spices.

The name is thought to derive from mortaio because the mixture was pounded in a mortar. More probably it is derived from the Latin murtatu, a sausage seasoned with myrtle*. Anna del Conte, author of The Gastronomy of Italy, suggests that the first mention of mortadella appears in a document of the official body of meat preservers in Bologna dated 1376, but earlier evidence comes from Boccaccio, who mentions mortadella in the Decameron, and it appears earlier still in the statutes of the Cathedral of Nice from 1233. Mortadella is made with a seven-to-three ratio of lean pork meat to fat, flavored with peppercorns, pistachios, wine, sugar, and olives and stuffed into beef bladder casing. The mortadella is steamed an hour for each half-inch of its diameter.
*- Cortelazzo and Zolli 1979-88.

Mortadella di Amatrice
Amatrice is a small town high in the Apennines between Lazio(Latium) and Abruzzi. This lightly smoked mortadella is flavored with cinnamon and cloves and aged for two months.

This pâté of game is from the Cuenca region of Spain.

Mumbar ve Shirdan
Turkish sausages made with the second stomach of ruminants and stuffed with mutton, rice, salt, black pepper, and cinnamon. The fresh sausage is boiled and cooled, then sliced and either fried in butter or dipped in egg and fried. It is probably of Persian origin and also called bumbar.

From the Veneto and Friuli regions of northern Italy comes this pork meat and rind sausage, seasoned with black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, red chili pepper flakes, and, sometimes, coriander seeds.

A bacon-flavored sausage from Corfu.

A Sardinian andouillette made with pork blood, lard, liver, tongue, heart, spleen, and lung, garlic, parsley, salt, and black pepper, usually roasted.

Cured pork belly, the same cut as bacon. There are two types; in one the pancetta is left in its natural state and is used as a flavoring in cooking, while pancetta arrotolata is rolled and used at the table as a thinly sliced cold cut for antipasti.

Pastirma (basṭurmā)

A cured and dried meat originally from Turkey or Armenia usually made from beef fillet. Sun-dried slices of meat are coated with a paste made of garlic, fenugreek seeds, paprika, and salt and left to cure. It is usually eaten for breakfast with fried eggs or, in Egypt, with the stewed bean dish known as fūl.

Probusti di Rovereto
A beef-and-pork sausage made with veal kidney fat and garlic from the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy.

The most famous of the cured hams known as prosciutto crudo are from San Daniele, Parma, and Tuscany, although today they are made throughout Italy and North America in local versions.


A preserved meat or jerky from Algeria and Tunisia. There are a number of recipes mixing up either the meats or the spices. Basically, lamb meat is salted and seasoned with garlic and mint. It is re-marinated with salt, harīsa, and mint and then sun-dried for several days before being cut up and cooked in a mixture of olive oil and sheep’s fat.

Qalaya (sometimes transliterated as "khlea")
A preserved meat in the Maghrib made from mutton meat, fat, kidneys, heart, and liver and seasoned with garlic, salt, black pepper, red chile pepper flakes and other spices. It is cooked in olive oil and kept for two months before being used.


          A Levantine Arab preserved meat.
Generic word for salt-cured insaccati (see entry), that is, salami. The word comes from salare, "to salt." In Italy there are as many different salamis as there are families that still home- cure them.

Salame da Sugo
A salami speciality of Ferrara is made from fat and lean ground pork, minced calf’s and pig’s livers, and ox or pig’s tongue cut into small pieces, all flavored with spices and a full-bodied red wine. The casing is pig’s bladder and it is shaped like a small melon. It is dried in a hot room for three to four days and then cured for six to seven months.

Salame di Milano
This salami, along with salame genovese, are what most Americans know as "salami." In Italy it is made from pigs fed on cheese by-products. It is flavored with garlic and white wine and cured four to twelve months.

Salame di Napoli
A pork-and-beef salami, ground coarsely and seasoned with salt, garlic, and red chili pepper flakes, which distinguishes it from the milder salami of the north. The curing process lasts about four months and sometimes includes smoking.

Salame di Varzi
A salami specialty from the town of Varzi near Pavia. It is made from lean pork shoulder and flavored with red wine, salt, black pepper, and a little garlic.

Salame Toscano
This distinctive salami that is dark and full-bodied in taste, with large "eyes" of fat, flavored with lots of garlic, black peppercorns, and white wine. It is cured for six to twelve months, sometimes in caves, from where its flavor derives.

Also called Neapolitan sausage. It contains pork, veal, lard, red chili pepper flakes, garlic, spices and wine and is lightly smoked.

Salami di Fabriano
A salami from the Marches region of Italy, flavored with a little garlic and black peppercorns and is formed into 1- to 2-pound shapes in natural casings.

Salami Felino
A prized salami that comes from the same area as the prosciutto of Parma. It is made from pigs fed on the by-products from the manufacture of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and is flavored with pepper, a little garlic, and white wine.

In Catalonia and the Balearic Islands this sausage is known as llonganissa; it is a smoked sausage made from chopped lean pork and pork fat with salt and black pepper.

Salsiccia della Basilicata
A lean pork sausage seasoned with black pepper and red chili pepper flakes.

Salsicce di Mare
A seafood sausage made from by-products of tuna processing.

Salsiccia di Nicosia
A pork-and-rabbit sausage from Sicily.

A dried Sardinian pork sausage seasoned with black pepper, cinnamon, fennel seeds, and vinegar.


A Cypriot sausage or crépinette.

or sobrassada
A Majorcan speciality, a soft, almost pâté-like pork sausage flavored with garlic and paprika. It is not similar to Italian soppressata but rather closer to and less spicy than a Mexican-style chorizo.

Soppressa Veneta
A large, soft pork salami from Valpolicella near Verona made with 35 per cent fat.

A salami made in southern Italy, especially Basilicata and Calabria, in a four-, or five- to-one ratio of lean pork to a mixture of pork fat and bacon. The meat is coarsely chopped and seasoned with salt and black pepper, with the hotter versions additionally seasoned with red chili pepper flakes, paprika, and wine. The sausage is lightly smoked and pressed to eliminate air pockets (hence the name; it’s "pressed").

Sosizza cu 'u Cimulu

A Sicilian pork sausage with fennel seeds.

Soutzoukaia or soutzoukakia
A Greek and Greek Cypriot sausage originally from Smyrna (Izmir) made today with veal or beef instead of the original lamb. Its distinctive flavor is that of cumin, garlic, and wine.

Souzoukaki Politiko
A dried Greek black sausage sometimes made with red chile pepper flakes.

An Austrian-type of smoked prosciutto from Alto Adige in northern Italy.

A loukanika (see entry) sausage and black pepper recipe from Mount Pelion. The best known of the Greek sausages.

A specialty of Val Camónica in Lombardy, this is a mixture of beef and pork meat, flavored with cinnamon, cloves, black pepper and nutmeg.

Sujuq (suguq in Egypt)
Pencil-thin Arab beef sausages flavored with cumin, allspice, cinnamon, garlic, and red chili pepper flakes popular in Egypt and the Levant; it originated in Turkey.

Greek pork sausages from Thessaly stuffed with leeks.

Small, fat Greek pork-and-beef sausages from Vólos seasoned with allspice.


Supposedly created in Modena, Italy, in 1511. The pork meat is stuffed into a pig’s trotter.