If there is a King of salumi, it's definitely Culatello di Zibello. Many might think that honor belongs to Prosciutto di Parma, with it's 5 pointed crown branded onto it's skin, but in reality, those in the know, understand that Culatello is the true King.
Culatello is made from the large muscle mass in the rear leg of the pig. Creating it means destroying the possibility of making a prosciutto. That, combined with it being a relatively small part of the whole leg, its tremendous aging time, the fact that it's the best part of the leg, and the expertise required to make it, make it one of the most expensive salumi in Italy, particularly if it adheres to the DOP regulations to be a Zibello culatello.
The flavor of culatello is indescribably delicious, but I'll try. It has a soft, supple texture similar to prosciutto, but a tiny bit dryer. The flavor is robust, and redolent of the 500 year old, humid, caves where they spend their 12 months drying. The pork flavor is the main thing you can taste (which is delicious because to adhere to the DOP certain criteria for raising the pigs have to be adhered to, and they must be pigs from either Lombardia or Emilia-Romagna), followed by the funk of the aging and the caves It's really something special. There is obviously no way I can recreate the flavor from the 500 year old caves and the native molds, but I'm hoping I can create something similar and delicious.