Cheese is for Boys, Frico is for Men

A person born and raised in Friuli that has never tried frico is not a real “Friulano”. Well, that’s because frico is a dish from the culinary Friulian tradition that has ancient and popular origins and whose recipe is passed down from generation to generation. Moreover, it’s really easy to prepare a good frico, and many ingredients can be added to the basics: everyone has his/her own secret recipe.

If we look for the real origins of this popular dish, we discover that it was first mentioned in the Libro de arte coquinaria by Maestro Martino, the personal chef of the Aquileia Patriarch, in the 15th century: less aristocratically speaking, its crunchy version was often used, together with cold polenta, by woodsmen travelling for work and needing good “take-away” food.

In its simplest version, it is prepared with 6-to-12 months matured cheese (usually local Montasio), grated on a non-stick pan and forming a round shape (10-15 cm). The cheese is then squashed to remove the extra-fat and browned on both sides: perfect, dinner’s ready, and seems like a crunchy and friable biscuit. Its most famous versions are the ones with onions or potatoes: a “poor” cuisine, to an “anti-waste” cuisine, with a few yet tasty ingredients.

Despite its humble origin, frico has acquired an international status: in 2013 the Friulian Chef Luca Manfé won Masterchef USA thanks to its delicious onion frico (after having failed the previous year because its Venetian liver and onion recipes had not convinced the competition judges).