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The Speck connoisseur

Karoline Kuenrath approaches the counter with a wide smile. Everything revolves around family and Speck Alto Adige PGI at the Metzgerei Mair in Glurns, the smallest town in Italy.

Karoline is used to tackling work head on. Dithering and waiting are not her thing. Her eyes shine as she talks about her third-generation family business.

Committed to tradition and family

With her brother Roland, she inherited the traditional butchers along with the expertise of her parents and that of her aunt and uncle. Her parents help still today.

As children, they learnt plenty about working at a butchers. And of course, they helped out too. Karoline was supposed to pursue the profession of saleswoman. “But that didn’t interest me. There was a girl attending butchery college with my brother. And I wanted to go there too”. She learnt the craft and knows what she is talking about. Nobody can pull the wool over her eyes. You quickly learn that traditional butchery is a science in itself. They have expanded and modernised the business. They now operate four small local supply stores in the Obervinschgau region. “My son,” Karoline says, “also wants to go to butchery college now”. And so the tradition will be continued.

Four children and a business

“My mother often spent many hours sitting at the kitchen table in the evenings. After a long day in the shop, she would set about doing the bookkeeping,” Karoline says of her childhood. She herself now has four children but she was never able to switch off from work completely. “My husband has always been a great support and without his flexibility, it probably wouldn’t have worked out”.

Karoline gets up early, as do the men in her field. A great deal is achieved before breakfast. Family management seems to function well. And the same goes for the operations management.

In its original form

Speck Alto Adige is the core product of this butchers. Covered in original spices such as pepper, salt, juniper and bay leaf, the hams are left to hang in aromatic smoke for a few days. The parts of meat are then slowly cured and develop into the typical Speck Alto Adige. The family perfect the meat until they have reached the ideal flavour.

The courage to invent new creations

The siblings primarily value ongoing development in terms of the quality and product range. Salami can be found with nuts, Vinschgau fenugreek or figs. They collect advice from external experts, complete courses and enter competitions. “We understood that we have to stand out with our products”. One thing which remains important to Karoline: leaving out everything which does not belong in the Speck. “All those additives have no place here. And that has always been the case”.

Tips from the female expert

You are the Speck expert: what is the proper way to cut it?

Opinions are divided on this matter: some want it water-thin, others thicker. But one thing is important: only cutting as much Speck as you will eat.

What Speck belongs in typical South Tyrolean speck-flavoured dumplings?

We only use the best Speck Alto Adige PGI. If you really want to do it properly, the Speck should be diced in cubes beforehand, fried in a pan and then added to the dumpling dough.


Text: Karin Thöni Heinisch