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Since the Ist Century AD when Petronius wrote about Trimalchio’s Banquet in the Satyricon, describing such lavish meat dishes as an entrée of live birds sewn up into the belly of a pig, Italians have been known for their fascination with meat.
The Chianti region of Tuscany is famous for a unique brand of pig called the Cinta Senese (dark coat with a white “cinta” or belt around the neck and shoulder) that roams freely and lives on a diet of acorns and chestnuts, giving the meat a distinct flavor.
In the small village of Gaiole in Chianti, you will find La Macelleria Chini. Not as well known as the world-renowned, Panzano-based Dario Cecchini with his Dante-quoting, wine-drinking mastery of the bistecca fiorentina—which he reportedly only sells to customers he deems worthy—Cesare and Vicenzo Chini passionately carry on a family tradition of farmer/butchers going back to 1682. Using a combination of ancient traditions, the brothers produce hand-cured salumi and prosciutto from the Cinta Senese, as well as offering their own version of bistecca fiorentina using Chianina beef, patiently cooked over oak.
From Issue 04
Image: Michael Crook