Italians can be so delightfully impractical at times. They’re incredibly hospitable, but at the same time they’re insufferable know-it-alls, and these two qualities put together sometimes make for interesting experiences. For instance, when I go out for dinner with people I know here, ordering can turn into an amusing scene:
“Dittatrice, what are you having?”
“I’m not sure yet, can you recommend anything? Anything that’s particularly good here?”
“Oh, you can pick anything you like, everything here is good!”
“Alright then, I was thinking of maybe getting the <dish of my choice>.”
“Hmm, no no, Ditta, why don’t you take the <dish of our choice>? You should really try the <dish of our choice>. Waiter, this lady will have the <dish of our choice>.”
I don’t mind. In the end, I get what I want: a recommendation from a person who knows more about these things than I do, which is what I asked for to begin with. Plus, everyone ends up swapping plates until the whole company has tasted everything that’s been ordered, and it doesn’t really matter what your choice was in the first place. This is great, because I get to taste all the interesting dishes rather than just the one, and I’ve tasted some interesting things this way that I might not have ordered myself.
Last weekend I had my first encounter with lardo after another switcheroo. Lardo is essentially pure pig’s fat – it’s very greasy, very salty, and unsurprisingly it’s delicious! You can have it as it is with some walnuts, as I did last weekend, but seeing that someone or other will surely complain that’s not really a recipe, we’ll just make some crostini with lardo, walnuts and rosemary.
If you absolutely cannot find lardo where you live, try to get a very fatty type of pancetta or cured bacon instead. If you can, you will need the following for a starter for 4:
- about 100gr of lardo
- about 10 walnuts
- some good, dark bread
- some fresh rosemary
You will also need a griddle pan.
So first you slice your bread to make 8 slices, two per person. Stick those slices in the griddle and toast them on one side. In the meantime, crack your walnuts and chop or crush them into chunks of an appropriate size. When your bread is toasted properly on one side, flip them, toast them for a while and then after a few minutes cover them with a thin layer of lardo. Be careful now – you want the lardo to go super soft (it sort of melts, it’s fantastic!) but you don’t want it to go curly, like bacon, so lower the heat and don’t leave them too long. When they look done, cover with walnuts and a little bit of rosemary. Eat straight away.
Or if that’s too much hassle for you, you could just eat it raw with the walnuts and the rosemary, like I suggested in the first place.