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lardo di colonnata

In the olden days, lard was a poorman's food, often referred to as "anarchist chow". This is due to the fact that partisans who fled into the mountains with their pigs after the 1849 Italian uprising against the Austrians survived solely by the grace of the pork fat they conserved in salt. The technique used to age and season Lardo di Colonnata is the same today as it was then, only the raw ingredients have changed. The fat used in the past came from animals raised in the countryside; spices were rare and costly. The skill of the Colonnatesi lie in their ability to discover substitutes ingredients in the fragrant herbs found among the rocks of the Apuane Alps. Processing is based on techniques developed centuries ago and have remained unchanged. The prime material is of course pork fat: a honeycomb of slits are made in the fat, and sea salt rubbed into them. The sides of the conca, a large tub-like marble pot, are rubbed with garlic before the first layer of salt, herbs and spices is put in it, followed by a layer of fat. Layers of ingreidients are alternated to fill the container, which is closed tightly with a lid. After no less than six months, the lard is ready. The fat is gleaming white, soft and aromatic. Suprisingly enough, in view of the quantity of salt used, it's very mild as well. This age-old process, the particular climes of the region and the special conca di marmo transform such a basic substance into the unique and highly celebrated "Lardo di Conca di Colonnata".

colonnata, italy

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