My idea of comfort food is pasta in any kind of creamy sauce. Be it a plain carbonara, mushrooms with garlic, parsley, or petit pois and bacon, liberal cream takes the worries of the world away. The market below my apartment had the sweetest diminutive fennel: two nestled in the palm of my hand and seemed an appropriate supper for one. Indeed it almost seemed a shame to slice them: if it were not the middle of summer I would have been tempted to braise them whole in cream, butter and parmesan as my father used to as a side dish for roast pork or chicken when I was a child. As it was the sweet aniseed of the fennel complemented the crisp lardons perfectly, and made what is usually a heavy dish lighter.
While the water for the pasta was boiling I fried a little pancetta until crisp with a bay leaf and some thyme, then added the thinly cut fennel. Into the boiling water (well salted) went the pasta, and when this was done, the fennel was cooked. A few liberal spoons of creme fraiche and some grated comte went in with the fennel, and then the sauce was ready for the pasta.