With more and more food stores, from hypermarket barns to our neighbourhood delicatessen, most times now stocking Duck or Goose fat and some even stocking Italian Lardo, a third option is missing. It’s where we should go next.

Recent medical research has shown that lard has two-thirds lower cholesterol than butter and higher oleic acid than both sunflower and corn oil. Apart from heightening the taste sensations, well made pure lard can actually ward off heart problems. This I’ve heard preached across gastronomic Europe for at least three decades – only in England, where the lard on sale is mostly an unpleasant cheap fat, has the message yet to get through. I write about the lard that is an entirely natural food made from the slow rendering of fresh back fat from well reared pigs.

Sunday morning pre-lunch drinks in parts of Austria and Germany has the purest lard – called Schmaltz – being offerred along with either beer or wine. It’s probably the same on other days but it’s Sundays I so fondly remember in Vienna and elsewhere.

Spread most times on Rye bread, this Schmaltz is often flavoured with onion, apple, plum, cracklings and more exotic tastes like tomato and basil, pumpkin and paprika, and, my favourite, seasonal wild, woodland garlic. It is cut into small, bite sized pieces and enjoyed by all, especially this writer.

Such food and presentation has a history goes back when pigs were slaugthered each Autumn and nothing would be wasted bar the squeak. Where else did Fergus Henderson’s ‘Nose to Tail’ dining originate at the game-changing St Johns Restarant? (Read our interview with him in the Spring edition of In Search of Taste).

Schmaltz is quite simply the rendered back fat from the pig – nothing more, nothing less. One Austrian company I’ve met source their fresh back fat from around Parma and Modena – Italy’s famed pig rearing and salumi producing areas – where locals tell you “quando il sapore e un’arte” (“when flavour becomes an art form”).

Erase from your mind please any reference to ‘schmaltzy’ – the Broadway Americanism for over sentimentality or corniness. The schmaltz would be chicken fat, given its root – it could hardly be lard from a pig.

This is simple food, with the taste and nutrition being the benefit of the immaculate attention to detail in the making. A by-product is the equally delicious knusper grammelin – directly and amusingly translating as ‘crunchy cracklings’ – coming from the gentle and slow rendering process.

Most Austrians agree that schmaltz is best enjoyed spread on thin sliced Roggen Brot (their traditional sourdough ryebread). Sourdough is of course free from added yeast – so thumbs up once more. Along with the Finns, Austrians are very aware of our over consumption of wheat, preferring Rye for its health properties and with good taste balancing the equation.