Friuli is a region with an especially rich culinary tradition. One of the undisputed stars of the cucina friulana is frico. Historically, these hearty snacks were sent out into the field with farm workers and woodsmen. They kept well, and provided a substantial and nutritional meal.
Frico, in short, is pan-fried cheese. Montasio of medium age is thinly sliced and put in a pan with oil, butter, and/or lard then browned on both sides until crunchy. This style of frico is popular as an aperitivo or can be used to create an edible basket for any number of stuffings. Pliable when hot, it crisps up as it cools and can keep for days.
This is the basic frico, but there are as many variations as there are valleys in Friuli. The two most common are frico with potatoes and frico with onions. These types can be thicker with golden crusts around the outsides and a warm, gooey center. One can imagine the goodness in that!
The dish goes back at least to the fifteenth century, when it was recorded in the famous Maestro Martino cookbook. As with many dishes of the day, it combined the savory with the sweet by dressing it with cinnamon and sugar. While this preparation is no longer in use, the classic frico is still enjoyed in homes and restaurants all over the region.