By La Tercera

A particular Chilean town, comprised only by Italian families which arrived 110 years ago, is the place of origin of a new national product that already holds its own guarantee of origin before the Intellectual Property Institute (Inapi), certifying its quality and granting protection against counterfeits. 

The product is the Capitán Pastene prosciutto (ham, in Italian), a classic preparation that allows to preserve pork meat by using salt and dehydration (air drying), and which changes name depending on the country and also changes flavor, depending on geography. In Spain, it is the equivalent to the renowned jamón serrano (Spanish cured ham), which receives its name because it is dried in that country’s sierra or mountains. In Italy, prosciutto is dried in the Apennine Mountains. In turn, in Chile, the product from Capitán Pastene is dried by the Andean air, unique from this area in the borough of Lumaco, in the Mapuche heart of the Araucanía region. “This product is typically Italian, with a lot of history, but seasoned on its surface with a very Chilean product, such as merquén, and dried up with the wonderful air of the Nahuelbuta mountain range, giving it a very particular seal and flavor”, according to Angelo Lubini, a producer of the “Montecorone” prosciutto. 

According to the producers, who are direct descendants from the first settlers who arrived to Capitán Pastene, the recipe includes their family secrets and differences in the processes and in the parts of the pork that are used. For instance, unlike jamón serrano, in Capitán Pastene only the hind leg is used. “When our grandparents arrived, the first thing they did was raise their piglets in order to make the meat last; at that time, no refrigerators existed and we maintain that tradition until this day. In proper conditions, a raw ham can even last forever”, explains Primo Cortesi, a producer of the “Trattoria Don Primo” prosciutto. This brand, along with Angelo Lubini’s, are up to this date the only two which may be marketed under the seal of the Capitán Pastene prosciutto guarantee of origin. “The processing took only 14 months, which is quite fast for an eternal protection, provided that standards are maintained. Other producers could adhere, under the same terms”, clarified Maximiliano Santa Cruz, director of Inapi. 

“15 years ago, no one knew about Capitán Pastene and now, thanks to its prosciutto, the town is a tourist spot, with restaurants, hostels and a development that has allowed for the integration of the Chilean and Italian cultures, and to contribute to the Araucanía region”, declared Marco Ricchi, the Italian ambassador.