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Lard


Lard is the subcutaneous layer of the fat of the pig; it may be considered the true interpreter, at one time, of humble cooking, made of soup based on bread, beans and pearl barley. It was honoured by having its own verb: lardellare; which is to roll up in a piece of lard the meat that has become too dry after cooking, and to that which is given a particular and intense taste. There are many types of lard, all with their own history, but in Tuscany it is an obligation to mention the lard of Colonnata that boasts a method of maturing truly special and takes its name from the place where it is produced, in the heart of the Apuane Alps, the mountain that made Carrara famous in the history of Italy and throughout the world for its valuable marbles, used for the most famous masterpieces of artistic sculptures. At Colonnata the lard is matured immersed in a brine rich in spices in a marble conche for at least six months; taken out of the conche and dried and then cut into pieces that have become white. It seems simple, but in reality there are many rules to be followed: it is necessary, for example - for it to become well made - that the containers are the proceeds from marble extracted from the sides of the Apuane called Canalone that has the characteristic of being porous, and so perfect to maintain the lard in its brine which is composed of : black pepper in corns and ground; cinnamon, coriander, cloves, nutmeg, rosemary freshly chopped with garlic with lots of coarse salt. The lard is put into the conche and layered alternatively with the spices; it is then pressed thoroughly to avoid it becoming oxide and to maintain its characteristic white colour...marble - like. Once it is full the container is sealed with a cover, also this is of marble. When the maturing is complete, it is eaten in pieces thinly sliced, soft and of a wonderful taste. The use of preserving the lard in marble came from an ancient habit of the quarrymen that, having to remain away from home for long periods, excavating from the cell called “pile” the marble to hold the lard which was a basic food in their daily diet. This food has its Fair; for Saint Bartholomew, patron of the town, the 24th August is celebrated as a festival and attracts many people to it to taste the pieces of lard with bread cooked in a wood burning oven, and washed down with large quantities of red wine.
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