Michael Graham knows cheese, if you please, but it turns out he knows his salumi and Apples pretty well, too. That’s why, while most people in town are familiar with him as the co-owner with his wife, Kathryn, of the indispensable C’est Cheese (825 Santa Barbara St., 965-0318, cestcheese.com), people might not know that this October he launched an Apple iPhone app for Salumi, the Italian word for any cured meat. So if you don’t know your salami from your salumi, you might want to purchase this handy guide to more than 100 cured meats and some other related gourmet items.
Graham is relatively laid-back about the process of developing the app, claiming, “It was pretty routine. I did a lot of research and a lot of copy writing, but Apple makes it pretty darn easy. It seemed like it would be a lot of fun, as I’m definitely a food geek and also an Apple tech geek. One day, I was researching gourmet food apps, and there really aren’t that many at all. I figured the salumi one would be easiest to do first, but there definitely will be more.”
Not a programmer, Graham enlisted “friend/customer” David Wagner and graphic artist Kim Carmel to produce the easy-to-use, fact-filled tool for those who need help to crack the code of cured meats—and you might, considering charcuterie has surely invaded menus during the past few years. One can alphabetically browse, from Ammerländer schinken (a German dry-cured ham) to zampone modena (an Italian salami stuffed inside a boned-out pig trotter); search by animal type, from cows, pigs, and sheep to birds and fish (admitted Graham, “I do have a lot of products that aren’t cured meats, but they’re things that come up in the same situations”); or reference by the region from which the salumi is originally sourced.
And then there’s the glossary that defines basic terms, such as that possible quandary between salumi (the bigger category of all cured meats) and salami (a cured meat that has been ground, spiced, and put into a case). “I really tried hard to keep it objective and to keep it to a level where you didn’t need to know anything about salumi,” Graham explained. “It’s really easy to say, ‘Speck is smoked prosciutto,’ but then people might not know what prosciutto is.” The app also wisely comes with hyperlinks in entries, so it’s easy to link from one salumi to another as you learn your way about cured meats. Glossary terms are linked, too, but open a pop-up window to give you a definition on-the-go, as it were.
While a cigar is a cigar, even a single salume (that’s the singular, by the way) can take many guises and flavors, and that made Graham’s job harder. “One of the challenges I found is that different makers make the same salume but do it differently,” he said. “I had to stay true to describing its original recipe but leave it open to regional producers.” Nothing was more challenging than the Italian salami sopressata. “There are hundreds of different ways it’s made, and even a dozen ways to spell it properly,” he pointed out. “It’s crazy. Sometimes it’s spicy, sometimes it’s not; sometimes it’s rectangular, sometimes round. The herbs and seasonings are all across the board.”
The app has even made him more informed. “The cured meats at the store have always been my dominion,” he joked, “and I do the salumi tasting each October. This year’s was even better than before. For research, we went up to Boccalone [an esteemed seller of ‘tasty salted pig parts’] in San Francisco, and I just bought one of everything for the photos. We ended up trying some freaky stuff—a lot of it I didn’t like.” But Graham’s overall goal was to get into the app “stuff you’d see in a restaurant or specialty shop. If you’re combing the hills of Italy, you’ll probably find something that’s not in the app, but I couldn’t include everything.”
The marketing of the app, alas, might feature more off-color jokes than you can shake your salume at. An early announcement on Facebook featured the tagline, “Is that a salume app on your iPhone, or are you just happy to see me?” while the T-shirts the Grahams will sport to spur conversation at the Fancy Food Show will ask “wanna coppa feel?” Even Chef James Sly got into the punning act during a visit to the shop, offering a simple, “How’s it hanging?” Don’t worry, though, for the app itself is snicker free, as Graham promised, “I tried to keep my sarcasm out of it, which was hard.”
Slip your iPhone the Salumi app for $1.99 by going to the App Store.