In Italy local cheese, salumi (salami) and affettati (cold meats) are like local dialects: they are completely different from one area to the next one. They are also the pride of the local farmers and producers: allora, per favore do not miss out!!
Some of these local products, such as Parmigiano (from Parma) or Pecorino Sardo (from Sardinia) or Pecorino Romano (from Lazio) crossed the Italian borders and became renowned all over the world. Therefore, we can find them in almost every supermarket as they are produced on a large scale.
But, if you go to Italy, I would highly recommend trying the ‘real stuff’–> the local products. Every geographic area has their own, as I mentioned above, and many will be new to you.
To mention a few from Calabria, the region where I am right now:
Have you ever heard about Pecorino Fresco (it’s a type of Pecorino, younger and softer than the one we grate on pasta)? Burrata (a wonderful mozzarella, but much creamier (like burro (butter) inside), Sopressata (a special spread that looks like salami) or nduja (a spicy spread or salame)?
If you go to Torino, it is a must to try il fritto misto alla piemontese or i tomini or the agnolotti… and many more local products!
Allora, when you go to the local supermarket, don’t get cheese and cold meats from the frigo (refrigerated) section, as they are full of preservatives and they aren’t local! Please don’t be shy … dare asking the experts at the cheese counter and let them recommend something for you to try, according to your taste buds and try the taste of the Italian area you are visiting. Enjoy your beautiful experience fully, food included!
If you are in the South, you might even come across ‘la macchina dei latticini locali’ (the car of local dairy products). This is a van that goes from house to house and sells all local cheeses and cold meats! You won’t even have to leave your house!