Ok, so today, Liberation Day in Italy, we went out to lunch at the Sagra di Cigola in nearby Moncigoli. On the way back home our neighbors were out on their steps and called us over for some coffee. We told them where we had been.
“But where can you eat in Moncigoli?
“We went to the sagra.”
“Um, I don’t know.”
Then Armondo piped up, “onions!” he bellowed.
“No, that’s not it.”
“Yes, onions!” he repeated.
“I’m pretty sure that’s not it. Ah, I know! Cigola.”
“Onions!” he said.
Well, if you Google long enough, you’ll find that cigola is dialect for a particular kind of red onion found around here, also called Cipolla di Bassone, that is good in Pinzimonio, the other thing being celebrated at the sagra. We, of course, finding all this out after the fact, did not order the Pinzimonio, but admired it from afar, where people munched on all manner of raw vegetables including little red onions called cigola.
Here’s some of the stuff we ordered and took a picture of, an extra step which amused the locals no end:
In the center is chiodo di maiale, a kind of pork sausage cooked on a hot terra cotta plate called a testo. It’s in the picture still sitting on its testo. Our neighbor tells us that this is what you are supposed to eat in November and December when you slaughter your pig, not in springtime. She mimicked gagging just to make sure we understood that this dish is simply not eaten by folks of reasonable intelligence outside of the slaughter season.
Moving on, the dish to the left is something that stumped me when it came to the table. Fave con pancetta e formaggio, Fava beans with pancetta and cheese. I had imagined a steaming bowl of favas flavored with bacon and dusted with cheese. What I got is what you see. This was, after all, a celebration of the raw…
(An interesting side note here: raw favas are especially toxic to a small number of Mediterranean people who suffer favism. Yet they are revered by most around here. Interestingly, if you suffer favism, you are probably immune to malaria. The world is in balance in ways we sometimes don’t recognize.)
On the right you’ll recognize simple bruschetta with tomatoes.
What’s missing is the goat and polenta. Imagine that, and the whole spread you see in your mind cost us €23.
I hope you ate as well as we did. Even considering the out of season chiodo, we didn’t gag a bit.