By Barrie Hardymon
I had something called 'lardo' this weekend, which is (brace yourself, vegetarians) made from the thick layer of fat directly below the skin of a pig, which is then cured, spiced, and delicious. It's pure fat. PURE FAT. I first learned about lardo from Bill Buford's marvelous book Heat, in which he tells a giddily hedonistic story of chef Mario Batali showing up at his apartment bearing the gifts of wine, homemade grappa, and lardo, which he lays across the tongues of Buford's dinner guests as a kind of sacrament. Now, having tasted it myself, I can see why it's sacred -- though I cannot at all figure out how every chef isn't 300 pounds. But here's where it's good to be a TV chef -- Time's James Worrell recently wrote about a new culinary trend among celeb chefs: weight loss:
These days so many chefs are losing weight that [Alton] Brown says even Mario Batali, the cultural signifier of joyous lardo-spread excess, has knocked off some pounds. The methods used by the chefs I talked to are pretty simple and should work for anyone if they've worked for people who spend their long working hours surrounded by amazing food they're forced to keep tasting, people who talk, think and read about flavor all day long, people who--forget about a carton of ice cream in their freezer--have a pastry chef in their office.
As I write this, there's an industrial-sized chocolate-covered pretzel box on our community table. At least it's not lardo.