“It was born out of a real fascination I have with the way foods were preserved before industrial methods of preservation. I was fascinated by the way you can take a piece of food, and with the right amount of salt, time and temperature, not only could you make it last a really long time, but you could make it taste very good.”
Meet Charles Wekselbaum, the founder and head salami maker of Charlito’s Cocina, a made-by-hand, artisan charcuterie business based in Long Island City, Queens. Charles, or Charlito (as he’s affectionately known), is a master charcutier. He is one of a handful of artisan salami makers in New York City. Yet, believe it or not, his business launched in the summer of 2011 with an entirely meatless product: the fig salami, an artisan product loved by vegans and meat lovers alike.
The fig salami was invented out of necessity. Even though Charlito spent years perfecting the art of preserving meats, New York City made it difficult for him to legally start his meat production. So, instead of giving up, he improvised. By using the same principals he applied to meat, Charlito began making a meatless charcuterie product, re-shaping figs to look like salami. It was a first, and like most first times, a lot of booze helps.
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