I had wanted to go to Bobbio for a long time. Bobbio is the start of the Via degli Abati, the Abbot’s Way pilgrimage trail, an alternative way through the Appenines for pilgrims on their way to Rome .
The La Via degli Abati connects to the Via Francigena in Pontremoli and was considered an alternate route to the Cisa Pass across the Apennines…It used by the monks of the Abbey of St. Columbanus of Bobbio to visit the Pope. The Abbey was founded in the year 614 by the Abbot and Irish Saint Colombano. ~ The Abbots Way
So, Bobbio seemed quite the town to visit, what with all its history as a religious center in the middle ages. Besides, who celebrates Christmas and the eating of snails at the same time? Perhaps it was even worth a two and a half hour drive on a chilly December day to find out what kind of people the Bobbiese were.
Anyway, a long trek to a minor festival seems nuts, but remember, there were snails on the other end of the drive.
Yes, the picture shows you exactly how the Bobbio snails served us at a restaurant in Bobbio looked. Pictures seldom lie. I even have the recipe for Lumache alla Bobbiese. Well, not the real recipe with amounts of the ingredients and such. You have to feel the cooking, not enslave yourself to a recipe. But here’s the list:
You need some snails, of course, and then there’s the supporting cast, which consists of carrot, celery, leeks, onions, tomato paste, olive oil, butter and salt. I assume you cook this quite a long time before dumping it artistically upon some polenta and serving it to tourists for a great deal of money.
But the Bobbio Christmas fair didn’t just consist of vats of snails. I know, snails are festive enough, but there were booths of woodworking, miniatures, Christmas ornaments, art, and even tables with cheeses and salami and…
Yes, they had salame di lumaca, snail salame. Imagine. But you can’t, because the snails inside the salame were but tasty placeholders, like the black peppercorns in American salame. The base of the salame was pork, like normal salame. The snails pepper the salame, more or less. Yes, they even pepper the pate or galantina as the Italians say. The more or less green bits you see in the picture represent the slimy things that destroy your garden but are just made for pate seasoning. They make you feel good, don’t they? It’s like you’re recovering the salad they’ve stolen by eating them. Revenge.
But that’s not all. Not by a long shot. There were lots of dried porcini. Many different “grades” of porcini. Some just tops. Those were the costly buggers. Some with bottoms. They cost less. The cheapest were shriveled up bits of mushroom that seemed more like attic insulation than mushrooms.
We didn’t buy those.
No, we bought an etto of the porcini priced just a bit more than the sickly looking bits, that’s .22 pounds or nearly a quarter of a pound. They filled a pretty big bag. It cost €8.
And they had truffles, too. Little black ones. They didn’t cost much. You could get 4 dinky ones for €5. Any time you can impress someone for a mere €5 is a bonus I figure. I’m thinking I could nickname myself “Tiger” and start luring hot babes into my SUV by grating a trail of truffle bits along the pilgrimage trail and they’d be lured to the sensual scent mixed with the noxious fumes of my Overly Large Vehicle That Inexplicably Mangles Fire Hydrants.
It’s worth a shot, except I don’t have an SUV. We have a Citroën, which seems like something you’d squeeze over a fish. I’m pretty sure you can’t get hot babes with a Citroën.
But you can get to Bobbio.