Some readers will be shocked to learn that many normally enthusiastic eaters dread wading through the endless waves of heavily decorated cookies, iced breads, and spiced cakes that appear so frequently this time of year. For the fruitcake-phobic in your clan, turn to Boccalone
(One Ferry Building at the Embarcadero, #21). Judging by the weekend crowds at the Ferry Building, we're guessing that the salumeria will be stuffing a lot of stockings this season. Featuring three varieties of black pepper, the subtle and heady salame pepato was our go-to for the first round of food-related gifts. For the second, we're switching to the orange-and-chili-spiked nduja (en-doo-ya), a silken fermented salame paste reflecting North African influences as well as its Calabrese pedigree. Nduja is as spreadable as Neufchâtel, but the flavors are warm, rich, and smoky. Think of it as piggy Nutella and try not to run out of bread.