You know what people love me? Shopkeepers. I can make friends with a shopkeeper in like, four seconds. I’m not entirely sure what happens in those four seconds, but I’ll frequently leave shops feeling all fuzzy and positive about my life, the future, my purchase or anything that happened to come up in the conversation. It’s a strange talent, if you can even call it that, and it’s barely useful, especially because I’m too shy to use it for obtaining discounts, but it makes for much more pleasant shopping trips. Often I’m not even aware I’m doing it – it’s friends who comment on how friendly I get with retail staff, or rather, how friendly they get with me, and then I realise they have a fair point.
In fact, I’m usually sort of disappointed if, by the time I leave a shop, I haven’t had a somewhat memorable exchange with whomever was at the check-out. I have some salespeople that I see frequently, like the cheese people at the market who always chat with me, or the lady who waxes my various body parts, who greets me with kisses on the cheek. I have a blacklist of unfriendly cashiers at the local supermarket, and I’ll always queue up for a check-out with a favourite cashier on it, even if the queue is longer there. In Glasgow I even made friends with the guy who sold me tacos when I was shitfaced, and I still speak to him pretty often!
However, it also happens with random, one-time salespeople. Like the time I found a five-minute soulmate in a Currywurst guy in Berlin. Or the time a bicycle repair man in India invited me for dinner. Or like that time a few months ago when I bought some cheese at a random market and the lady asked me about the cheeses where I’m from, after which she started telling me all about how and where her cheeses were made, whilst the queue started growing behind me. And then she told me exactly what to do with the cheese I bought, and to report back to her the week after. I never did, because I normally go to my own cheese people at my own market, but the recipe she gave me has since become a favourite. I don’t make it very often, but when I do, it’s invariably a success.
You see, here in Piemonte, they have this cheese called toma, and it comes in all shapes and sizes. One of the various shapes and sizes are tomini, tiny little single-portion sized cheeses that you can grill so they go all soft and melty on the inside. I would tell you to do just that, but that wouldn’t be a recipe so much as a single instruction, so instead I’m forced to go for pancetta-wrapped tomini as instructed by the market lady, which is even better!
For however many people you’re feeding, you will need:
- one tomino per person
- about three thin slices of pancetta per person
- some aluminium foil
Toma is pretty specific for this region, and Im not sure how widely available it is in the rest of the world. If you can’t get any, look for anther type of small, firm cheese with a solid crust that will remain intact whilst the inside melts.
So, grab your tomini and wrap them in pancetta. You want the whole cheese to be covered, more or less, but you don’t want to layer the bacon too much. Now wrap the cheeses in aluminium foil – individual packets are easier to flip than double-deckers.
Stick the parcels in a dry frying pan on low to medium heat with a lid on. Leave them in there for 6-8 minutes on each side. If you want your pancetta really crispy, give both sides a quick one-minute boost on high heat towards the end.
Now you can unwrap your cheeses, and you’ll notice they’ve swollen up with all the hot cheesy inside. The bacon should be cooked well and if you want even crispy. Serve immediately and burn your tongue on the boiling cheesy goodness.