The existence of lard in the Valle d'Aosta is testified to, for the first time, by a manuscript dating from 1570 in which there is described the refectory of the religious order of the monastery of Sant'Orso, and the distribution of nutritional products to the needy. In 1763, there was registered the presence - in the kitchen of the castle at Arnad - of four doils of lard already old. The word "doils" belongs to a patois dialect and indicates the containers used to mature and preserve the lard: they were constructed from chestnut wood, in a parallelpiped form, with a capacity which could vary from 25 to 50 litres. Historically and throughout the passage of time there have been found other numerous documented references: around the end of the XVII centuries in relation to price trends of foodstuffs; there is a description of a tavern in the city of Aosta in whose men¨ was present the "lard friand" which when translated means "delicious lard".
The area of production is the territory of the municipality of Arnad, but the swine may come from breeders situated other than in the Valle d'Aosta, such as Veneto, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, and Piedmont.
The swine must not weigh less than 160kg (there are accepted variations more or less of 10% maximum) and of an age not less than 9 months with the typical characteristics of "heavy Italain swine". Not more than 48 hours after the butchering, the lard must be cut and placed into the appropriate containers: actually there are used containers of stainless steel or of plastic for foods whereas the traditionalists want the "doils" constructed from chestnut wood, particularly resistant to humidity and so non-deformable. There are alternating layers of salt and herbs and one of lard until the filling of the containers and a mixture for salting made up of a paste containing chloride of crystalised sodium, water, garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, sage and with other added herbs of the mountains. The container is then covered entirely with salt water, brought to the boil before and then left to cool, to have the necessary brine for the maturing of the lard which terminates after 3 months.
Next to the lard of Arnad, which is frequently served as an hors d'oeuvre, with nuts and honey, accompanied by black bread, there are the sausages which give again more touches of źtradition╗ to a lunch in the Valle d'Aosta.
From źJambon de Bossess╗, hams spiced with mountain herbs, already present on the tables of the people of Valle d'Aosta from the 1500's, to hams of Saint-Marcel, of whose production is of more recent origins.
Other dainties: the famous mocetta and the sausages (with potatoes, beetroot or pig's blood).