Destination: Molinari Deli, San Francisco

Glossary: salami is the plural form of the Italian word salame, referring to traditional cured meats – specifically, ground salted and spiced meat forced into animal gut with an elongated and thin shape, then left to undergo some kind of fermentation process. Salumi refers to prepared meat products generally. Let's see if I use these terms correctly here. (Ruhlman is always lurking.)

I recently posted a comment referring to my love of Molinari Salame as a favorite comfort food. My Italian immigrant grandfather got me hooked on sliced salame as a snack at an early age. Back then, he had Boun Gusto salami shipped in from San Francisco. Years passed, my family moved around, and it became very rare to get ahold of this specific type of dry cured salame. It bore no resemblance to anything found in the cold cut isle, or even a meat counter, not to mention a Jewish deli. Of course, these days artisan salumi can be readily found at specialty markets, and locally produced charcuterie is available if you seek it out… look for posts on these subjects in future.)

When I was a teenager, my dad took me along on a business trip to San Francisco and we went on a search for Boun Gusto Salami. Soon enough we ended up here:

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(Located at 373 Columbus Avenue, Molinari Delicatessen in North Beach is now the last of it's breed. Open for over 100 years, the family deli is also a market featuring imported Italian staples, house-made pastas and sauces, and P. G. Molinari & Sons' famous salumi: Dry Coppa, Mortadella, Pancetta, Sopressata, and varieties of Salame, among others.)

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Still wet behind the ears, I enthusiastically asked about my beloved Boun Gusto Salame… and was summarily kicked out into the street. From the doorway, I was subjected to a tirade ending in "This is Molinari. You want salami – ask me again!" Wow. Well, what a find. This was the stuff. Molinari Milanese style pork and beef salame in easy peel casings, dry cured for 4 weeks. Heaven.

Upon returning home, we would have the 3lb salumi shipped to us a couple times a year. Back then they had a minimum order of 10 pieces, I believe, so – lucky friends got to partake. I continued to order directly from the deli over the years and they finally gave me a break – I could now order as few as three at a time. 

These days, their products are available locally at Central Market and other specialty grocers… but it's not the same. I still order directly from them once in awhile. It's kind of a pain – C.O.D. only – but I swear it's a different product right from the source. 

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And whenever I'm in San Francisco I drop by, have a sandwich out front and grab a couple 3 pound salami for the trip home.

Addendum: I did find Boun Gusto again. Last year. Surprisingly at that hidden bastion of goodness, the Gourmet Market at Sigel's Addison.

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I damn near fell over when I spotted it in the chilled display.

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I understand that Boun Gusto was bought out by another producer – but I do not have all the facts. The wrapper alone flooded me with fond memories (it is EXACTLY the same!) And the flavor was specific – I remembered it, and just wonderful. Talk about food being a time machine. I may now prefer Molinari, but I got a glimpse of my childhood while savoring this long lost contender. Anyway, if in the area, check out the Market at Sigel's Addison:

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