SUNSHINE ON THE TABLE
The traditional polenta, which used to be eaten in every household, is mixed for a long time and cooked in a special kind of pot called a paiolo until it begins to harden, and then the fragrant, steaming-hot finished product is tipped out in one resolute flick of the wrist onto a board on the table. Polenta is an indispensable accompaniment for all kinds of tocio (sauce) made with chicken, rabbit or veal; every type of pastizada or carne in tecia (meat stew); game meat in salmì; meats cooked on the spit; lamb and kid, traditionally eaten at Easter; mixed varieties of mushrooms; snails cooked with celery; baccalà alla vicentina (Vicenza style cod); malga cheese, schiz and fried cheese and slices of sopressa or grilled sausages. And once the freshly-cooked polenta becomes cold it can be given a new lease of life by cutting it into slices which are then grilled or browned in the pan with a little butter and become the delicious, crisp polenta brustolada. Maize from
Even today in the north of the Agordino area, the Ampezzano area and the Cadore, and particularly in the mountain refuges, a little buckwheat is added to the maize to make a whiter, grainier variety of polenta with a more bitter, old-style flavour. In days gone by, and now all but forgotten, polenta was often eaten with milk for breakfast or even as a simple evening meal, particularly suitable for children and the elderly.
Patugoi, pape, cavernola, dufeta, and pestariei are all local variants of milk fresh from the milking shed with polenta crumbled into it, or polentina calda, or polenta flour cooked in milk. These are extremely simple dishes, but the flavour can be varied surprisingly easily by adding fresh or melted butter, grated smoked ricotta or aromatic herbs and spices, and it is a great pity that “progress” and modernity have all but wiped them off today’s menus.
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