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Yeah, Mario Batali can cure a mean coppa but can he deliver heavy packages for eight hours a day as well? I don't think so. My UPS guy, it turns out—I learned when I answered the door holding a near-full glass of wine (it was a tough week...)—is an Italian delicacies artisan. He doesn't pour his wine from a bottle, he says—no, he decants his very own house wine from an oak barrel in his basement, where he also has four prosciuttos and a few dozen salamis curing. His nephew, a graphic designer, even makes labels for the wine bottles that he actually does fill to give away as gifts. I know this to be true from the photos (quite a few) on his cell phone.
After a lengthy tutorial on how, where and for how long he hangs his pork, he mentioned that he really wanted to tackle cheesemaking, particularly mozzarella and ricotta, but was daunted. (Hello?? Curing meat is any less daunting?) I assured him that both were remarkably easy to do and recommended a good basic cheese book by Mozzarella Company's Paula Lambert, who, on my first trip to Texas years ago, showed me how to make mozzarella.
Normally I can't shut the door fast enough on delivery guys, survey takers and fund-raisers (especially if I have a near-full glass of wine in hand), but Mr. UPS was so engaging and so passionate about his stuff that it was a pleasure to talk with him, and I was sorry to see him go. I'm hoping that in a few weeks, when his prosciutto is ready, he'll pop back over with some samples. I'll even supply the melon and saba.