I’ve seen my fair share of post-facial chocolates, and even hotel spa “health” cocktails, but salami and spas are something I’ve never thought belonged together. How foolish. Apparently, salumi therapy is on the rise in Italy, and Faith Willinger tried it out for The Atlantic.
The “cured meat therapy” is offered in Parma by Ivan Bertelli, owner of Hosteria da Ivan and Italian spa veteran, who decided to combine his passion for pork (sorry, sounds gross) with his vast experience in R&R. Here’s Willinger’s description of her first salumoterapia experience:
The treatment consisted of deep breathing, eating, and drinking. Participants were served a plate of choice salumi—sliced prosciutto, culatello, salami, and Tuscan head cheese from Simone Fracassi. Then we were given large cloth napkins, to be placed over one’s head and the plate, deeply inhaling the porky perfumes, stimulating salivary glands and appetite. Remove napkin, taste salumi, and drink sparkling wine—Champagne, Italian sparklers, or Lambrusco. Then head for dinner. I felt renewed.
Three worlds: Only. In. Italy.
If I lived in Italy, like Willinger, I’d be more than happy to accept an invitation to come sniff pork, drink wine, and chill out, but this doesn’t sound all that different from a high-end happy hour to me. (That said, I must admit that I don’t hang my cloth-covered head over plates of cured meat too often, so my skepticism is purely speculative.) I’m not saying that happy hour doesn’t make me feel good — it does! — but there’s something in me that chuckles over this quintessentially European approach to spa treatments: Eat, drink, repeat. Preferably with cholesterol and alcohol involved.
And hey, why not? If you’re just after a better mood, I guess there’s really nothing wrong with getting there via salami. (Actually, every compulsive eating counselor in America might take me to task on that statement, and Geneen Roth is probably ready to bomb Ivan’s Hosteria.) But for those of us who aren’t a stone’s throw from Parma, I think the real cross-cultural takeaway is that slowly savoring your food isn’t just a more graceful way to eat; it could help you feel more restored and relaxed by your meals. Meanwhile, I’ll stick to my meatless massages at home and abroad.
(Photo: The Atlantic)