The queen’s salami

A Maremman macellaio who feeds the royal family

Elisa Scarton
July 14, 2016 - 18:01

High in the hills in a small Maremman town, there’s a butcher who makes salami for Buckingham Palace. But you would never know it.

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Anywhere else in the world, this very fact would have been a town’s claim to fame.  But the Maremma in Tuscany’s south has always been a humble sort of place, and the residents of Torniella couldn’t care less if the Queen herself showed up to secure a slice of wild boar prosciutto. They go to Salumificio Mori because it’s the only butcher in town and because they’ve been going there for years.

 

I arrived in Torniella on the trail of this story. It’s not the sort of place you visit for any other reason than royally endorsed cold cuts. Torniella locals: forgive me, but your town is the quintessential mountain hamlet, deserted and uneventful.

Silvano doesn’t want to talk about celebrity customers. He’s much more interested in telling me how to eat his cold cuts.

 

After what felt like 100 ignored emails and phone calls, I decided to simply drop by Salumificio Mori to see if I could get some answers in person. The Mori family has been operating this place since 1981 and their shop is decidedly retro, but comforting. The walls are covered in newspaper cut-outs and every available surface is lined with salami, soppressata, finocchiona and pancetta.


A man smiles at me behind the counter. It’s none other than owner Silvano Mori, further proving that this butcher shop is strictly a family affair. There are only six employees and three of them are Silvano’s wife, Doretta, his daughter Valentina and her husband Armando.

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Silvano is eager to offer tasters and as I munch on salami slices laced with truffles (Prince William’s favourite) and others seasoned with Morellino di Scansano red wine (the Duchess of Cambridge’s favourite), I’m surprised by just how reasonable the prices are.

 

Silvano’s wild boar prosciutto sells for the equivalent of 250 euro per kilo at Harrods in London. The luxury supermarket has rigorous quality tests and impossible standards, but still, in Silvano’s own store, the prices are a fraction of this. 

 

“In Torniella, I am no more famous or special than the next man. The locals who come here don’t do so because I make salami for the Queen. They come because they like my cold cuts and they don’t expect to pay ridiculous prices for them. If I was that expensive, I would have no customers.”


Not that Silvano’s main business comes from Torniella’s locals. In fact, the family is a pioneer of the e-store, a foreign concept for most of the Maremma. Their online shop ships cold cuts across Europe and the world. They have clients as far as China, Scandinavia and Russia. But their most illustrious is the Queen herself, who reportedly makes weekly orders and keeps the shelves of luxury store Fortnum & Mason well stocked with Torniella salami.

 

Silvano himself is unremarkable: short, jovial and very much the embodiment of your average butcher, in a white apron that barely fits around his satisfied paunch. He makes most of the products himself. And there are a lot of products. From the most traditional Tuscan sausage to salami flavoured with porcini mushrooms, blackberries, pistachios and olives.

 

Silvano explains that it’s not all about the fantastical flavourings.

 

“I think people love our salami because we combine modern technology with traditional processes. It’s the flavour of old with the safety and security of the new.”

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What Silvano means is that his cold cuts are cured under grain or oak ash. This process is very different to what most modern butchers do and is something Torniella’s locals have been following for generations. The grain or ash provides the perfect humidity and infuses the meat with a flavour so exceptional, William and Kate insisted on including it in their wedding banquet.


Silvano is not just a royal favourite. His products were present at the inauguration of Milan’s restored Teatro alla Scala, and have appeared at many fashion events, including those by Dolce & Gabbana.

 

But Silvano doesn’t want to talk about celebrity customers. He’s much more interested in telling me how to eat his cold cuts.

 

“We use wild boar in most of our salamis because it’s leaner, which means it dries faster and has a more intense flavour. We mix it with pork mince for a sausage that’s perfect as an antipasto or on its own with a glass of red wine.


“Then there’s our lardo, which is flavoured with rosemary and must be eaten thinly sliced on toasted bread so it melts in your mouth. And our prosciutto makes an incredible salad with rocket and a drizzle of lemon and olive oil.”

 

I leave laden with more cold cuts than I can eat in a year. Above everything else, Silvano is the consummate salesman. Something I imagine has nothing to do with his famous friends and everything to do with his love for his product and for his town.

 

 

Salumificio Silvano Mori

Via della Pace 2

Torniella (Grosseto)

Website

 

 

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