Prosciutto of Happiness
Learn how Herb and Kathy Eckhouse turned a wild idea into what is La Quercia today.
Food we eat can delight us each day.
La Quercia (pronounced La Kwair-cha) was founded by Herb and Kathy Eckhouse on the belief that the food we eat can delight us each day.
Great food is more than great taste. It is healthful, nutritious, and pleasurable. Great food satisfies the senses and the body, the emotions and the mind. It is part of a responsible food system that sustains you, the producers, and the craftspeople, restaurants, and stores who support their communities and respect the environment.
Great food is made with the highest quality materials, careful adherence to the best of tradition, and the judicious use of modern tools.
Unique Dry Cured Meats
La Quercia began with creating premium quality American prosciutto, then applied what we learned to other cuts of pork. Our appreciation for cured meats grew out of the three and a half years we lived in Parma, Italy, prosciutto's area of origin, where we saw how the careful treatment of fine materials resulted in an accessible, sublime and entirely regional cuisine. Our ambition to create our own prosciutto came from our desire to take the bounty that surrounds us in Iowa to its highest expression. We seek to contribute to the growth of premium artisan-made American foods by offering unique dry cured meats of the finest quality.
We use organic spices whenever possible and sea salt sourced in the United States. Our spice purveyors have rigorous safety controls to ensure the purity and integrity of their spices.
La Quercia means "The Oak"
La Quercia means "The Oak" in Italian. The Oak is a traditional symbol of the province of Parma, through its acorns, has been associated with the production of premium dry cured ham for millennia. It is also the state tree of Iowa. The name unites Iowa, Parma, and prosciutto, and is a symbol of patience, persistence, integrity, and beauty — values which guide us.
Second, we buy our raw material, the pork, right here where the pigs are. We focus our meat supply, so that the vast majority of our meat comes from slaughter houses within 200 miles of our prosciuttificio. Most of the pigs are raised within that radius also. The way we see it, it makes more sense to send cured, rather than raw, Iowa meat to the coasts. We take locally-produced meat, trim it, cure it (taking out most of the water weight) and then ship it out.
We are always working to make our operations and activities more sustainable and decrease our carbon footprint.
Design and Equipment
When we opened Prosciuttificio La Quercia in February 2005, we built it with energy efficient materials and used the latest, "greenest" refrigerant. The new curing space we added in 2009 incorporates high density, non-ozone depleting polyurethane foam; Freon R404A; heat recovery from the refrigeration compressors to provide most of the heating, and computer optimized compressors to minimize horsepower on-line.
We made choices with the packaging for our sliced meats to reduce waste:
• Lighter plastic films to avoid putting more plastic in landfills.
• Recyclable paper sleeves over our pre-sliced packs, rather than a heavy plastic tray.
• Biodegradable, compostable interleaving.
• Eco-tite bags that are made with recycled material.
• We use unbleached boxes with a minimum of 90% recycled content.
• Boxes are pre-printed or stamped to eliminate unnecessary stickers.