Thursday, 13 December 2007
The Fat Bull Festival
There has been the Festa del Bue Grasso for 370 years at Moncalvo near Asti and this is the second year on the trot (hoof?) that I've been. Essentially it's a day dedicated to the consumption of meat and then more meat. In the morning there's a show of prize bulls, when that's out of the way (I didn't see one bull; we were in the bar drinking Prosecco) it's time to make one's way to any of the several excellent restaurants in the village and the gloves come off.
The menu was: raw minced beef (with just a little lemon), then veal in a tuna sauce, then tripe with peppers and garlic, then agnolotti (huge mutant ravioli stuffed with meat and served with a roast meat gravy), then the main course which is seven different cuts of boiled beef, served with three garlic-based sauces. Then there was a pudding (no meat as far as I could taste), coffee and two bottles of grappa on the table amongst eleven of us. We were a little disappointed the cheese board didn't pop its head out. Needless to say we drank industrial quantities of Barbera d'Asti.
The chap in the photo getting the first of his three helpings of agnolotti from the not unattractive waitress is a Real Man. Obviously we swapped stories all afternoon. In the summer he lives in the Alps at 6,700 feet with his goats and cattle. No electricity. And he goes up on foot with the animals. His Mum, together with their supplies, goes up by helicopter (€200 + €22 a minute flight time). In the winter he works for the state electricity company, chopping down trees underneath high voltage power lines. Just before the tripe he started regaling us with his Great Chainsaw Accident stories. His favourite was his friend who had a kickback from a tree trunk (he was working without a helmet like they all do, too hot) and he managed to chainsaw off his right ear, half his cheek and most of his shoulder. The blood squirted out for more than three metres apparently.