I want to warn you about an unutterably odious food travesty I have been unfortunate enough to experience. The Nduja sold by the company Unearthed is a phenomenally wretched, deplorable and generally half-arsed facsimile of the real product. Indeed, so repulsive is it that I fear it will not only menace but actually exterminate any possibility of the comestible acquiring the enthusiastic reputation it undoubtedly deserves.
Long-time readers will recall the glowing report of my first experience with Nduja; for those who don’t it is a spreadable Calabrian salami made from pig’s cheeks, lard and belly with 25-30% flakes of local chilli. All of these constituents are important and make it a characterful, if not unique, food to sample. Consequently, when Editor Daniel and I saw Unearthed’s offering on the shelves of Waitrose we thought ourselves in for a quality meal. Our hopes were categorically annihilated.
We thought we would be prepare it with pasta, the simple yet gratifying dish I expounded upon in the first article, and so scored some spiffy pasta from the supermarket as well. A few days later we were boiling this up (remember the instruction about salt in the pasta water, terribly important) and opened our two packets of Nduja – the horror. It looked like a nondescript paste of tedious redness perhaps containing meat that had been pulverised and homogenised to vapid uniformity – no morsels of pig fat or flakes of chilli could be discerned. When it came to mixing it with the pasta it was confirmed that it was just pulped slop rather than something of compelling texture. Furthermore, as we mixed the lack of lard was evident as no fatty goodness melted to coat the pasta. Portents for a quality dinner were beyond ominous.
Sheer hunger dictated we continue on to eating our dinner; alas after a few distressing mouthfuls we gave up and consigned Unearthed’s flagitious offering to the land-fill bin. This pretence at Nduja had only the lacklustre flavour of chilli powder, not the heroic personality of powerful chilli flakes. Its meatiness was vague and insipid, certainly not suffused with the savour of interesting cuts of pig’s face and fat. This was inedibly repellent, we were truly dejected having sampled it. Such woeful dross should be avoided and I cannot suggest strongly enough that you boycott this contemptible counterfeit of a great and noble food.