DJ Donpasta Wants to Save Salume for Posterity. Who can blame him?
On a recent brisk March afternoon, he came to this fishing town on the Amalfi Coast and stood amid rows of homemade pork sausages, some covered in hot pepper flakes, that were strung from the low ceiling of a work space. “What do you put in — do you put in the ear?” he asked Antonio Polverino, the sausage maker.
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“No, not the ear,” answered Mr. Polverino, 64, a retired construction worker with thick hands. “This is all meat, ground meat. The heart, and lungs, too. This you eat dry.”
It is traditions like these that Mr. De Michele worries are slipping away. He put his mission this way: “I wanted to explore memory — how memory-based identity persists, exists, gets lost; to take a snapshot of Italian working-class cooking today.”
Cooking shows like “Master Chef,” which has been replicated in Italy, “take away someone’s awareness, his identity,” he said. He pointed to the coastline.
“Here, a person defines himself through hot oil with garlic and anchovies, and is proud of that,” he said. “ ‘Master Chef’ tells you that that’s no good, that you need to do something cool.”
Mr. De Michele’s research is sponsored in part by the Bologna food association Artusi, named after Pellegrino Artusi, the author of an 1891 cookbook that was one of Italy’s first. He has asked Italians to send in their old family recipes to his blog, Artusi Remix. The end result of his travels will be a book commissioned by the Italian publisher Mondadori. But he is also traveling with a videographer for a possible documentary — and for his trademark performances, which often combine a D.J. set with monologues about food and footage of people talking about food traditions.