Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Food Legends


'Nduja: story, origin and tradition of a Calabrian symbol

The history and the tradition related to the Calabrian ‘nduja are extremely particular. Why? Let’s imagine to eat a salami, the color is vermilion because of the red pepper, and try to eat it in summer while you are here:

Capo Vaticano, Calabria

It seems to be an hallucinogenic experience while you go bungee jumping with the waistband of your underpants. Well, there is maybe something better to do…

But if you think something better can exist, you haven’t tasted the ‘nduja yet.

In Italy everything has a specific taste and everything has a story.

Historians have different hypothesis: some of them believe the ‘nduja comes from 1500s, it was brought in Italy by the Spanish with the red pepper, others think that its tradition is bounded to the french arrival in the early 1800s.

For sure the word ‘nduja has french origins and it comes from andouille, a french sausage made of pork tripe, and apparently Murat used to give it to Neapolitan Lazarus. Also in Piedmont there is a similar name, the “salam d’la duja”and the most likely hypothesis is that the three expressions are coming from the Latin words “inductilia” and “inducere”. Another option might be the connection with the Spanish language. Duja in the dialect from Piedmont means container and you can use it even for the casks and in Spanish they call salamis “embutidos”, that is “in buttis”, “inside the cask”.

‘Nduja is typical from Spiliga. On August th 8th (make no mistake: 8th of August) in this small town takes place the “Sagra della ‘nduja” (‘Nduia’s festival) that attracts thousand of tourists every year.

In the past, it used to be a very poor dish. It was made mainly of pluck, today instead they use lard and bacon and at the end they add salt and red pepper. Then it is smoked and seasoned.

We need to spend some words on the pepper since it is almost sacred in Calabria (an Italian region in the South) and for sure it is not used to cover the low quality of the ingredients. Of course not everybody is used to eat a lot of spicy food but there are a couple of remedies: it is enough to warm up the ‘nduia and add some ricotta cheese and it will soon become less spicy.

There are a lot of recipes with ‘nduia but if you want to taste it you need to start from the beginning: roast a piece of bread and add the ‘nduia, maybe match it with a good cheese.



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This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

My name is Pierluigi Capriotti to be exact. Despite a degree in Architecture I'm a journalist. I write following temporary monomania and others that are chronic such reading, soccer, travels and food. When I write I use many asides – because I have the impression there is always something more to say. Because in those asides I talk about my passions. So that everybody will notice them but with nonchalance. I've never had a high regard for wisdom. And, thanks God, this helped me to leave for the foodiestrip journey with a spiritual-creative mathematician, an IT engineer who plays the Star Wars soundtrack with the coffee stirrers and a businessnerd. One way ticket. No return.