When my Noni (Borsari) made the trip from Italy to America in 1914 she brought with her a few personal possessions and a wealth of culinary knowledge taught to her by her Mother and Grandmother. These were shared techniques and recipes that were passed from generation to generation and were particular to the various regions of Italy. One of these great recipes from Emilia we simply referred to as “Noni’s Salts”, or when speaking to those outside the family as the “secret ingredient”. In fact, this incredible concoction had the ability to impart deep flavor to just about anything and was responsible for making many meals taste so authentically Italian.
I had always been a great fan of “Noni’s Salts” and to this day the smells associated with this flavorful blend take me back to her pantry and all those pleasant memories – so many of them centered around food. You can imagine my surprise upon visiting her kitchen one day when she gave me her characteristic “little wink followed by that big beaming smile” and summoned me to her pantry. “Dolfo”, she said, “I’m going to teach you how to make the salts.” In truth, Noni’s recipe was quite flexible and a little imprecise. Ingredients were measured by half handfuls and pinches and whatever was fresh from Noni’s garden might make the substitution list, but the basic backbone was always there. Years later that little lesson would become the basis for the Borsari Food Company’s line of seasoned salts that are now sold throughout the country.
In 2001, Elizabeth (Betsy) and Adolph (Dolfo) Morando decided to commercialize the “secret ingredient”. Using the original recipe as a guide, some adjustments were made and a few pieces of special equipment were built to allow larger batch sizes without compromising the integrity of the final product. Manufacturing was set up on their farm in Western New York State where the salts are still produced today in a true artisan fashion. In time two other blends were added to the line. Betsy, President of Borsari Food Co., has led the sales to include Wegmans, Whole Foods Markets, several grocery chains and many specialty food markets across the country.
Noni, who always loved commerce, would be delighted to see her original art being shared with so many people across the land. If she were here today we feel certain that we would get that “little wink followed by the big beaming smile.”