The Annual Polenta Feast (sagra
) in Piobbico has become a rite of autumn - the first weekend of September we gather with our fellow villagers and eat heavy bowls of golden coarse ground polenta that has been stirred by hand over an open fire in a copper cauldron then topped with a rich ragu & handfuls of Parmesan. What's not to love?!
I tend to, shall we say 'pig-out' at festivals like these and polenta is no exception (even though it can sit in your belly like lead). I start with a glass of wine (a whopping 80 cents) and then split a bowl of polenta with carbonara - a meaty red sauce with Jason. We walk around, mingle, mix with the locals, you know - schmoozing it up! After I've had another glass of wine it's time to find the real dinner spot so we follow the jovial band through the old city walls up towards the castle.
Then we duck into our friend, the Pharmacist's family cantina (they only open the doors for special events) and I quickly order a bottle of red & two bowls of polenta with wild fennel and snails. It's an antique recipe that has been served in this valley for centuries. It's the only time of year it's served so I always make sure to savor it.
There we were greeted by il Presidente,
the President of Club dei Brutti
, or literally The Ugly Club (it's international!) and yes, Jason & I are card-carrying members. During the festival, the Club opens it's doors for the day & offers complimentary entrance to this elite society once they have judged your beauty - the uglier the better!
I ate and drank and ate until I was pieno come un uovo
- stuffed like an egg! We waddled our way back through town, loving every minute of living in this tiny village with our friends & neighbors, i Piobbichese