Petroio’s Political Culinary Festival
From early April to late October, sagras – outdoor village food festivals – animate the evenings all over central Italy. They all have common threads: ten-day festivals highlighted by outdoor dinners at long tables (under tents in inclement weather) of typical local cuisine cooked by volunteers (often local farm women) and served by other volunteers (generally the teens with the elderly) with ballroom dancing afterwards. Oh yes, and at very reasonable prices for the closest you can get to homemade cooking (outside of someone’s home!). After all, the earnings of the sagra are usually just used to pay the bands and perhaps for a local village initiative, i.e., new play equipment?
But some sagras are fund-raisers for political parties. The one we attended in Petroio was a PD festival, funds earned directed to the Partito Democratico (that of the Prime Minister now, Matteo Renzi). Not our party but we were there to see Petroio friends Franca and Nicola (architect) – who volunteered to man the dessert cart for the 10-day festival. We were there both for them – and for the pici all’aglione, the dish taking center stage at this festival. Pici are a thick spaghetti (called “strangozzi” here in Umbria) and the Tuscan aglione tomato sauce is heavy on the garlic. Che buono! Franca opted for the pici al ragu (with a meat sauce) but we both chose the pici all’aglione.
And Pino didn’t mind the hour drive to Petroio when he heard that snails were on the menu, too, at this festival. And the Tuscan bean dish, fagioli all’uccelletto, was the perfect side dish. All around us, families were sharing conversation and good foods and across from us, the dance band was feasting before going on stage. Some were having the Tuscan antipasto, others the wild boar and the pig livers; Tuscan steak were choices, too.
Nicola pushed the sweet cart up to our table, too, trying to entice us with a dessert. His blue shirt with “Yes” on the front did not win us over. The panna cotta tempted. But who had room?
Read more about Petroio
Read more on the sagras
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