Conviviality in a fujot of Bagna Cauda
With the symposium, the ancient Greeks built a true culture of sharing; they would gather to discuss topics of common interest while eating and, above all, drinking wine. Conviviality at the table is an aspect that was fundamental to the birth of many preparations that, today, are part of the immense global gastronomic heritage. It is precisely conviviality that has allowed for a mixture of products and techniques, of different cultures, and is in continuous progress.
In our regional panorama, the one dominated by the tip of Monviso, we find a dish that stems precisely from a sharing: bagna cauda.
Three ingredients: garlic, anchovies and olive oil; nothing else is needed, except for a few accompanying vegetables, to replicate what is an iconic Piedmontese dish par excellence.
The conviviality lies in the very concept of a meal with bagna cauda: in the past, the bagna was placed in a large earthenware bowl in the centre of the table. Each
diners could thus dip their vegetables in the same bowl. But which vegetables are we talking about? Cardoons, onions, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, but also grilled vegetables such as courgettes and
aubergines, peppers both roasted and raw, carrots, fennel and beetroot.
Today, the 'ritual' is slightly different and everyone has their own typical earthenware bowl ('fujot' in Piedmontese), with a small slit into which a lighted candle can be inserted to
keep the bath warm at all times. In this way, everyone can dip their vegetables in their own fujot. The concept of sharing, however, remains fully intact as the table is filled with trays, each containing food that can be accompanied with bagna cauda; not only raw and cooked vegetables, but also polenta, boiled eggs, raw meat in some cases. And for the best gourmets, the leftover bagna becomes the sauce for the next day's spaghetti.
Being quite a heavy and difficult dish to digest, over time, variations were devised to lighten the bagna cauda. Today, not all restaurants and
Today, not all restaurants and trattorias serve the traditional recipe. Often there is a version in which a certain percentage of cream is added, or one in which the garlic is first cooked in milk to remove the pungent taste and make it more digestible.
A vegetarian version is also often found, made with Jerusalem artichokes and, logically, without anchovies.
In addition to the conviviality aspect, it is very interesting to learn about the history of the anchovy: perhaps the most controversial typical product in Italy, which belongs to a region that does not
overlooking the sea.
The introduction of the anchovy into Piedmontese gastronomic culture dates back to the Salt Road.
In those days, salt was a very expensive product. Piedmontese traders went to Provence to buy it and, to escape the heavy taxes, they covered the last layer of their buckets with anchovies. Once imported, appreciation for this product increased over time. Gradually, the number of traders selling anchovies alone increased.
sale of anchovies, the so-called anchovy traders. They set off with carts to sell throughout Piedmont and Lombardy. They did not earn a fortune, but just enough to
survive and, above all, they represented one less person in the family.
What is the best occasion to taste bagna cauda? Definitely take part in Bagna Cauda Day 2022, a very famous event in Piedmont, which for two
weekend: 25, 26 and 27 November and 2, 3 and 4 December, gives Piedmontese and tourists alike the chance to enjoy a lunch or dinner of bagna cauda in one of the 150 or so restaurants taking part in the event.
participating in the initiative, not only throughout Piedmont, but even in other countries, such as China and the United States.
Bagna cauda warms, not only the palate. It warms hearts, spirits.
It is not just a simple meal, whenever a group of people get together to eat it, it is a celebration, an important reunion.
This is a perfect example of how food unites and acts as a link between people.
And now can you still say that we eat for pure survival?