These days, whenever we mention the Midwest, it seems like all we talk about are the politics of corn, CAFOs, or other unpleasant realities of our current food culture. So it's nice when a small business like La Quercia comes along to remind us that there's more going on in the Midwest than we might first think.
Like many of us, La Quercia founders Herb and Kathy Eckhouse have a passion for prosciutto. Unlike many of us, they discovered this passion at its source--while living in Parma, Italy. And when Herb took early retirement in 2000, they brought that passion back to Iowa and began experimenting with making the first truly American prosciutto. His goal was to craft a prosciutto that could stand up to best of Italy and that also represented qualities and characteristics unique to America's heartland. La Quercia officially opened its doors in February 2005.
The emphasis at La Quercia is definitely on the prosciutto. They tempt us with four different kinds, which represent a variety of cuts, curing techniques, and spice rubs. And if that weren't enough, they also offer up several other kinds of cured meats like speck, pancetta, and guanciale.
Kindred spirits to the locavore and slow food movements, all the meat at La Quercia comes from locally and humanely raised pigs, and their prosciutto is crafted following traditional dry curing methods. No nitrates or nitrites are used in the process, and the meats are allowed to age naturally. Your prosciutto is done when it's done and not a minute before!
Several restaurants and suppliers around the country have started featuring meats from La Quercia. Some restaurants have even gone so far as to purchase an entire pig in advance, receiving their pig in CSA-like installments down to the very last bone.
To get your hands on some La Quercia prosciutto of your very own and support this incredible small business, visit their website and order online. We recommend getting a sample platter and trying a little of everything!
La Quercia Homepage
Order La Quercia Artisan Cured Meats online!
A list of restaurants and suppliers who carry La Quercia Artisan Cured Meats
(Photo of cured meats by Kurt Michael Friese for Essential Iowa; Image of La Quercia crest courtesy of La Quercia)