The mountain province of northern Italy customarily accepted pork as a staple fare and most often than not, all parts of a butchered pig are put into good use. The parsimonious and practical locals even originated a decent way to preserve and benefit from pork's fat into good use (and a delicious one at that!). Lardo di Colonnata is the delectable product of this clever frugality; a simple yet gratifying Italian treat.

This traditional Lardo di Colonnata from Northern Tuscanyis created from pork fat preserved in special marble tubs called 'conca' or conche. Lardo di Colonnata, called thus because it is made famous by people living in the mountain town of Colonnata, is not only a way of storing important protein source over the cold winter of old but it is also a very delectable Tuscan treat that old and young people find irresistible.

Tuscans set up the first stage of curing the Lardo di Colonnata by starting off with the conche and substantially rubbing it with garlic; then, the thinly-sliced salted pork fat, and the special mix of herbs and spices that makes it sumptuous are layered one over the other until the vats are full or all the pork fats are in the vats. The vats made from marble will then be sealed with a wooden lid. These vats are then ready for the next process; they are left for six to eight months in cool mountain caves to cure.

The secret of a good Lardo di Colonnata lies in the particular herb and spice mixture (different family would have their own traditional blend). Mixture basically includes rosemary, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, sage, oregano, aniseed and of course, the primary herb ingredient, garlic. Some people profess that the secret of a good Lardo lies in the distinctive marble conche from Cararra, a neighboring town.

The age old curing process and the pleasant climate in the mountains produces a silky-smooth pungent 'meat' that is surprisingly not salty at all despite of the amount of salt used. People love Lardo di Colonnata on their sandwiches and salads

One does not have to go up the mountains of Northern Tuscany; any authentic Italian restaurant will definitely offer this scrumptious Tuscan treat.

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Gigi Silerio writes for a leading restaurant directory with more than a thousand restaurant listings around the world. Food provides sign-up for free membership to restaurants around the world. For more information, visit our directory website.