Last weekend could be renamed "Fear and Loathing in the Kitchen" … an entire Saturday (and I mean the whole day) spent between the four walls of a kitchen, dealing with five different Christmas sweets, with an exaggerated multi-tasking and, of course, with the inevitable mistakes made because of the performance anxiety (I still can't tell you my mistake, but it includes aluminum foil and a long series of curses). But, when you share everything with a good friend, and you season it with a large dose of irony (and I assure you that it was absolutely necessary), even mistakes turn into a laugh and everything goes by, even a 12 hours cooking frenzy.

And then, on Sunday, an epic "polentata" (a meal in which you eat only polenta, with different dressing) in the mountains, taking turns to stir the polenta on the wood stove, with a stew made as nature intended, mushrooms, cheeses and a good red wine.

And so, in a kitchen or around a table, with new or old friends, I believe that everything finds the right balance, everything comes back to the right place.

The next weekend it will be Christmas, many of us will spend this week to cook elaborate, long, full-bodied, meals, and some of us will fast (except for the inevitable dinner/afternoon teas/after-dinner to exchange Christmas wishes and gifts .. ok, so basically none will fast) to prepare ourselves for the upcoming holidays. Today I don't propose you a traditional recipe (although in some places in the Asti province this starter is more or less typical) or a complex recipe, but just a stupid, quick and effective one.

RUSTIC CROSTINI WITH CHOPPED LARD AND BLACK PEPPER

Ingredients (deliberately without doses)

* rustic bread (for me a 7 grains home-made bread, a few days old)

* lard (I suggest the one without spices, to bring out the aroma of black pepper)

* ground black pepper

Procedure

I deliberately didn't set out the doses, 'cause everything goes to the eye, to the mouth, to the nose. Slice some rustic bread into crostini and place them to toast in a hot oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop lard and season it with plenty of ground black pepper.

When the bread is toasted, take it out of the oven and spread chopped lard and black pepper on bread, so that the lard lightly melts. Eat the crostini when they're still warm.

This is a recipe-not recipe, perfect for a Christmas appetizer, a New Year's Eve finger food (I suggest also the combination lard/dried prunes .. divine) or just something quick, hearty and tasty to eat while you cook up something for the upcoming holidays.

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