Word reached me after the banks closed on Friday that in central Italy a deposit of Parmesan cheese is enough to secure a loan.
Apparently this system dates back to the 1950s and is still used by four banks in northern Emilia-Romagna including one which holds around 400,000 rounds of the cheese.
I am reliably told that a round of Parmesan weighing 40 kilos is worth 300 euros so is not to be sniffed at.
The cheeses take about two years to mature but during these two years the producers have to cover a range of costs and continue to pay their suppliers. To allow them the necessary financing the banks in this region have diversified by creating Parmesan storage.
In cases of default, the banks recuperate their losses by selling the cheeses.
I am now busy raiding my fridge to find that packet of ancient, sorry mature, cheese slices and will be off to the bank as soon as it opens on Monday.