A recent press release outlined the increasing popularity of both Mortadella Bologna IGP and Cotechino Modena IGP. The IGP (indicazione geografica protetta) mark of quality was awarded to the Mortadella of Bologna in 1998, and in recent years sales have increased by over 35% and production by a similar figure.
This equals a total of 28 million kg of mortadella sold in the Italian market place each year, which is an awful lot of ham sandwiches.
The president of the Consorzio Mortadella Bologna put this success down to general faith in the IGP mark and the quality of the product. In fact, the mortadella has about the same level of cholesterol as white meat, while a gram of mortadella has less calories than a plate of pasta. Mortadella Bologna with the IGP mark represents around 20% of all mortadella sold in Italy.
For both zampone and Cotechino Modena IGP from Modena, always a favourite at Christmas and New Year, sales were up almost 28% in 2002, while production remained steady with a 3% increase.
The IGP mark for Cotechino Modena actually represents 60% of all the cotechino sold nationally, which suggests that only the best will do for Italian dinner tables during the festive season.
The stats also suggest that 47% of Italian families consume cotechino during this period. The Consorzio hope to push this figure to 60% within 5 years. Don't understimate the importance of the role of the humble pig in Italy's gastronomic tradition.
It is a fascinating story and a good starting place is the website of the Istituto Valorizzazione Salumi Italiani.