And so on October 12th, 1898, in Rotterdam, Van Berkel founded the first factory of meat slicers in the world.
Nevertheless, most people may not be aware that the very first meat slicer was invented by the Bolognese Luigi Giusti, 25 years earlier.
Traditionally, mortadella used to be cut thinly in slices by hand, using a specific large and thin knife called curtleina (a dialectal term meaning little knife).
Cutting was not just a necessity procedure, but rather a culinary act, in other words an art, and it was so important that each shop had its specialized cutter.
It is believed that in 19th century, during the Carnival period, there was a challenge between those “masters of the blade”: they had to cut 3 slices of mortadella and who realized the most light and the less damaged slice within the shortest time won.
As long as mortadella was not distributed outside the city borders this method of cut seemed to be adequate, however, in 1873, when it started to be exported the cut by hand technique turned out to be too long and expansive.
It was the 3rd of May 1873 when the old newspaper Il Monitore di Bologna described the first meat slicer:
...it is a refined little machine that cut any mortadella in slices of equal thickness, variable within certain limits. Mister Giusti is a man of distinguished talent in this kind of things…