How do you like your prosciutto sliced?
There is a growing debate amongst my friends. Lydia Bastianich and my Italian cousin from Genoa say it shouldn't be sliced transparently thin for eating out of hand. I know for cooking it is better thick. I agree with Lydia, I love it thicker than paper thin. You?
I agree - after years of asking for it as thin as possible, and fighting to peel it off the paper to serve, I read somewhere that there is, among some (maybe including Marcella - maybe that's where I read it) for it to be cut thicker. There was a recent thread about this but I think it was a tangent off something else ... don't remember now.
I agree with you. I was just discussing this with my local Italian deli guys when I ordered it cut twice as thick as they normally do and you should have heard the shrieks from customers saying it must be paper thin. Then the owner jumped in and said the only reason they cut it paper thin is one, for lesser quality prosciutto and two, because the 3rd generation customers don't know any better and demand it transparently thin.
As far as I know when cured ham is hand cut in Italy and Spain it is cut thin... but thick enough to give you teeth something to bite, as opposed to the deli slicer dialed so thin it dissolves without chewing.
I feel there is one exception where paper thin is good and that is when you get a very nice fatty piece that hasn't had all the outside fat trimmed away. Laying a nice piece of half fat and half lean on your tongue and letting it dissolve can be nirvana.
That reminds me of my other beef about prosciutto... trimming all the fat off the outside so all you have is lean. What's the deal with that? It's the best part. When I was there the other day I asked them not to trim it before slicing... and that I wanted everyone elses trimmed fat chunks...Mmmmmm.
The old-fashioned deli men are hard to come by, at least down south. Although I can get prosciutto di parma, the deli people don't really know how to slice it. Some places don't even put paper between the layers. Try prying that apart, regardless of the thickness.
I remember when I was little, a favorite during the holidays was julienned prosciutto pieces. It would come in a red and white checkered container and we would only have it for the holidays; Chistmas Day, New Years Day and Easter Sunday. It was fun to pull it apart as it would separate at the fatty part. It was a real treat.
I know that in the deli I frequent in central Italy, the proscuitto is machine-sliced and transparent, while the locale is lovingly sliced by hand.
Thinness is a virtue when making proscuitto and melon, though.
For just eating as is, hand sliced thin...but it won't be paper transparent. I think the texture of hand sliced is so much better. It has a pleasant chewiness. I hate the transparent machine slices. It feels like shreds in my mouth.