Italy and Ireland share more than just a band of green in the colors of their flags. At one time Northern Italy was inhabited by Celts and Proto-Celtic tribes in the Lombard Valley. Celtic tribes from central Europe hearing of the well-laid tables of the Etruscans were attracted to the region around 350BC and began to invite themselves over for dinner. The lush valleys, rich copper and iron deposits and strategic location convinced the Celts that an Etruscan-Celtic alliance would be to their advantage. This resulted in a peaceful coexistence, intermarriage and the building of a settlement at Monte Bibele in the Bolognese hills. The Luigi Fantini Archeological Museum in Monterenzio (BO) has one of the most important Etruscan-Celtic collections in the world and the largest in Italy. There is a life-size reconstruction of a dwelling hut from the 4th-3rd century BC furnished with authentic objects or reproductions from daily life including crockery containing carbonized seeds, utensils, decorations, arms and coins.
It seemed that pork was the “other white meat” for the Celts who raised pigs for food and shared their taste for pork with the Etruscans. Ciauscolo (cha-USE-colo) may be one result of this Celtic-Italian fusion. Not your typical Italian sausage, ciauscolo has the texture of a paté and is eaten spread on a piece of bread. It is believed to come from the Gallic people who were living in the Marche region of Italy. Once conserved in terracotta terrines, today ciauscolo is an PDO specialty in and around the towns of Ancona, Macerata and Ascoli Piceno into the region of Umbria. This semi-soft salami is made with meat seasoned with garlic, pepper and salt, pounded in a mortar with a drop or two of vincotto (sweet cooked wine), put into a casing made from small intestine and smoked with juniper wood followed by a brief aging (10 days). The result is a soft buttery spread whose name comes from the Latin word cibusculum meaning a small food. A perfect addition for a St. Patrick’s day antipasti serenaded with Italian bagpipes.