The following glossary identifies the basic characteristics of Italian processed meats. Because competing companies use different spice mixtures and aging, curing and smoking processes, products will differ.
Bresaola -- Air-dried beef.
Cappicola -- Mildly spiced cooked ham, sometimes seasoned with paprika.
Coppa -- Pork shoulder butt that has been aged into a sweet or hot dry meat. It is usually eaten in antipasto, sliced very thin.
Genoa salami -- A mixture of pork, beef and spices rolled into a slender sausage shape. Good in sandwiches or antipasto.
Mortadella -- Predecessor of American bologna, this pale pink, smooth sausage made from finely chopped pork is larded with cubes of pork fat. A wide, cooked sausage, mortadella is good as a cooking ingredient, served cold in sandwiches, or hot, wrapped around vegetables or cheese.
Pancetta -- Italian bacon, cured (not smoked) for about two months. Seasoned with pepper, it is rolled into a sausage shape. Pancetta can be used either alone or as a cooking ingredient, and is often mixed into pasta sauces such as carbonara or amatriciana.
Pepperoni -- Small, dry, cured sausage made of beef and pork and seasoned with red pepper, black pepper, garlic and paprika. According to the Colmignolis, it is an American invention that is not found in Italy.
Prosciutto -- Cured, uncooked ham that is aged anywhere from eight months to two years. It is not smoked. American-style prosciutto is a semi-cooked product that is made in two to three months. Prosciutto can be served in a sandwich, with cheese or fruit, or with vegetables, pasta, chicken or seafood dishes.
Sopressata -- A mild or hot salami made of coarsely ground pork and flavored with peppercorns. It is frequently served as an appetizer.
Speck -- A smoked version of prosciutto. It is darker in color than prosciutto and has a more pungent flavor.