Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Feste di Maronne e Zucca

People who know Trofie Wife well know that fall is my favorite season. Leaves aflame in reds and orange, slight wind chills that call for boldly colored corduroys, apples and their byproducts, lots of birthday cakes. Well, that’s my riff on an East Coast autumn. Fall in northern Italy is a New York autumn bubbling over like Prosecco, on account of all the sagre e feste celebrating the bounty of this gorgeous land (not to mention the bounty of new fall fashions (secondo me, the only season worthy of slightly fiscally irresponsible splurges) in all the store windows). Autumn in northern Italy above all means tartufo (truffles; more on that in a few more posts), marrone (chestnuts), and zucca (pumpkin).

Martello and I spent last October chasing down sagre. First we headed to Cuneo, which borders France and is close to another of our beloved cities, Torino. In both on a clear day, you can stare at the Alps while standing in the town’s main piazza. Men whose families had probably served in such capacity for generations could be found roasting chestnuts in huge pots.
Chestnuts come in many varieties
Wizened chestnut roasters
We were overwhelmed by the selection of chestnut and general produce offerings (we bought and lugged home 3 kilos of carrots and purple potatoes; we couldn’t quite bring the 3-foot stalks of leeks on the train, nor would we have known what to do with them in the kitchen!). And with so many sweets on display, we finally settled on a single dessert at a famous and elegant cafĂ©: chestnut gelato injected with chestnut cream and enrobed in dark chocolate.

Cavallino! A tiny horse (not sure why it was there...)
The next day we turned our attention to pumpkins, visiting the small village of Rocchetta di Cengio, where we rode the zucca bus (unfortunately not pumpkin-shaped) up the hill to view the pumpkins in gara (competition for largest and loveliest), buy pumpkiny treats, and dine on zucca frittelle e vellutata di zucca (fried and soupy pumpkin, respectively), all the while listening to mountainy folk music.
Pumpkin My Ride
We didn't make it back to either of these festivals this year, but we're still enjoying marrone e zucca, albeit bought at the mercato!

Baci e gelato,
Martello e Trofie Wife

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