How does 300kg of pork bits lying in the back of a ute on a Friday afternoon transform itself over a weekend into 426 sticks of salami? Well, as this new boy was about to find out, nothing happens until there’s been some earnest man talk, more than a few clarets and a surgical dissection of the previous year’s batch. Hence, Friday afternoon was a write off.
Under the cold grey skies of a Barossa Saturday morning, the men-folk got to work at Mount Lehmo. This ‘newby’ was happy to be delegated the task of trussing…think rodeo’s and cowboys on horseback lassoing and roping calves…without the horses, calves, chaps and big hats. Dave Lehmann was CSE (Chief Salami Executive) in charge of grinding, seasoning and mixing…having ‘salamied’ for a four or five years, he looked to know what he was up to. Peter ‘The Other Man Who Ate Everything’ Gambetta was responsible for tying off the fresh salamis and Mick ‘Man About Town’ Kleeman was to do the heavy lifting to load the 100-year-old sausage press. Jimmy Lindner did the cranking and offered continuous comedy relief interspersed with thoughts on life in the village.
But first things first…the ritual cleaning of some 500 all-natural bungs…or cow intestine to the uninitiated. I confess there is something strangely satisfying having your arm up to the elbow in a bit of cow gut… I finally felt a little bit of country washing over this one time city boy.
Now with bungs cleaned and shining white against the darkening winter skies, a steady rhythm evolved as 5 blokes put their heads down to produce a steady stream of salami…..and bad jokes. First the Veneto – mild and lightly spiced…salami for the kiddies. Then the calabrese – blood red in colour and with a bit more character.
And then it got silly.
Mick produced a bucket of home grown habanero chilis, amongst the world’s hottest. Wearing asbestos gloves and standing behind a blast shield, the habanero’s were blended into the meat and then squeezed into extra strong bungs under a cloud of dry ice. Trussed and labeled “Keep out of reach of children and the elderly, have toilet paper in the freezer at the ready”, they were appropriately named ‘Insanity’.
As the sunset over the western ranges early on Sunday evening, where once stood 6.5 largish pigs, now laid 426 sticks of finest handmade Barossa salami. Testament to teamwork, sweat and a deep-seated desire for keeping the traditions of the Barossa alive for a new generation (not to mention the excitement that comes with having a year’s supply of home made salami swinging at the ready!)
Another email from Mick today….brave enough to try his Veneto after an 8 week hang. Subject line on the email? … “Still alive!” … This is good news.