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This Fake Italian Deli Meat May Be a Poser, But So Am I

Mass-produced prosciutto might be a little tacky, a little fake, a little gauche. But to me, it tastes like love.

by Sophie Kemp
Dec 14 2018, 7:34pm

Photo composite by MUNCHIES Staff

Welcome to #NotAnAd, where we post enthusiastically and without reservation about things we’re obsessed with from the world of food.

Prosciutto is the ham of the gods. It’s delicately marbled like the thigh of a Roman statue; salty; a real meat’s meat. Its innate Italian-ness somehow makes it ooze with sex appeal. When you bite into that cured, fatty sliver of a pig’s hind leg, the first thing that comes to mind probably isn’t utility.

Prosciutto is also a pretty ordinary lunch meat. Displayed beneath a gauzy sheet of plastic, placed in the aisles of Trader Joe’s and/or WalMart under the Daniele Inc. ensignia, the quintessential antipasti addition becomes the stuff of sandwiches. And I want it no other way.

You can shut your eyes and eat a piece of Del Duca and imagine yourself in a tiny swimsuit on a Mediterranean beach, but you would be fooling yourself.

Daniele Inc.’s Gourmet Deli Selection Italian meat plates are that sweet spot between good old-fashioned American lunchbox puritanism and extremely idealized (by me, at least) European sensibility. There are three types of meat included: a Calabrese salami, some capocollo, and in the center—the heart of the plate, if you will—a healthy pile of Del Duca prosciutto.

Del Duca is a Daniele invention. It’s made in the US, but claims to be “authentic”—a bold move, since there is actually a special EU designation given to prosciutto and other products of a certain caliber used to prove their quality and authenticity—and uses the “ancient European” style of dry-curing. You can shut your eyes and eat a piece of Del Duca and imagine yourself in a tiny swimsuit on a Mediterranean beach, but you would be fooling yourself. I’m endeared to this particular pre-dinner snack specifically because of its deeply suburban flair. Daniele offers a virtual tour of the facilities where the meat is made, and when I went to see what that might possibly entail, I was met with photos of little old men named Marcello and Paolo, sweetly smiling in a colorful factory in Rhode Island. While these two grandfatherly gentlemen are always in my thoughts when I go to purchase my meat gourmet meat plates, ultimately, it is the loneliness involved in eating these spreads that I live for the most.

I find the act of buying meat to be sweetest when it’s a solitary endeavor. I relish the opportunity to peruse the refrigerated section of the supermarket and quietly make up my meat decisions on my own time, and even find it romantic and lonely (which I guess makes me basic). I like the feeling of taking a sleeve of the stuff and putting it in my shopping bag, shuffling to check out, making my way home, and then carefully taking a slice out of the package and rolling it around a breadstick in the peaceful comfort of my apartment. Buying Italian meats at a deli counter in New York is not for me (mostly because it can be pricey), but when I see people order some San Daniele at a nice grocery store, I often think to myself, Jeez! I wonder what it is like to be in that part of your life!

I am fascinated by things that try hard to be effortless but seem to fail along the way. Like these meat platters, I am also somewhat of a try-hard.

Prepackaged deli meats are probably one of the least sexy things a person can buy. Daniele’s packages are purely functional. There is nothing pretty about them; their purpose is being a vessel for something dead; they are layers of plastic and film surrounding a Frankenstein of a suburban appetizer.

All of this is enough for me, because that is the subtext of my life thus far. I am fascinated by things that try hard to be effortless but seem to fail along the way. Like these meat platters, I am also somewhat of a try-hard. A kitsch lord, even. I am someone who fronts a lot more self restraint than I actually possess. No matter how many white sneakers I buy, no matter how hard I try to deny that I’m from the second stupidest city in upstate New York, I remain me. This fake Italian deli meat platter may be a poser, but so am I.

But who am I kidding? The main reason I spend money on these adult Lunchables is because they are not expensive and they taste good. I encourage you to do the same, and to give yourself the space to do some serious self-reckoning.

I also recommend taking part in my favorite way of performing this culinary pastime, which is to shovel salami into my mouth like a demon and then immediately shout out in a fake Italian accent, “That’s amoré, baby!” Cuz for me and these cold cuts, it really is.