The Italians are coming: Part 2

I’m not a very adventurous eater. I once ate turtle, but only because someone told me it was beef. And then of course there was Wontongate, where I was viciously tricked into eating prawn wontons on my birthday after being told they were pork. They were delicious, but that’s really not the point.

So, I was a little nervous as we put together our plans for a weekend with my wife’s Italian cousins and I realised they were based around tripe and white truffles, though not at the same time, obviously…

Langhe Doglian Cisra Fiera dei Santi

The tripe element came at La Cisrà e La Fiera dei Santi in Dogliani. With a population of about 5,000, Dogliani is one of the bigger towns in these parts. Nestled at the foot of the hills, a huge cathedral dominates its skyline, while down below, narrow cobbled streets snake between the piazze.

Traditionally, the Fiera was the last chance for people from the Alta Langa to come down from the hills before winter set in, bringing with them anything they could barter with. By the end of the Fiera they would hopefully have everything they needed to see them through a long, cold winter and they’d head back up into the hills, not re-emerging until spring.

Dogliani Cisra fiera

These days, everyone drives 4×4 Pandas so there’s no need to hide away all winter. Still, the Fiera provides a great excuse to have a big market, drink Dolcetto di Dogliani and, most importantly of all, eat Cisrà.

So, Cisrà. I can tell you’re dying to know what’s in it… I would give you the recipe, but let’s face it, you’re not going to make it. It’s basically a very traditional, hearty stew of tripe and chickpeas, with potatoes, celery, carrots, leek and onion all thrown in for good measure. And it smells surprisingly good.

Stew langhe cucina povera
Looks good, doesn’t it…

The queue snaked through the streets of Dogliani, and the true Cisràlites (I can call them that, right?) weren’t just getting a bowlful… they had Tupperware containers. They were going to be eating this stuff for weeks.

I’m not at all embarrassed to say that I didn’t try any, though some of our party did, and they assure me it was delicious.

Polenta and cheese

The rest of us saved ourselves for a nice lunch at home, sticking to cheese (we tried a Raschera and a Toma, both local cheeses), salsiccia di Bra (veal sausage, again a local speciality) and polenta, all cooked by the Italians; I wasn’t getting involved. Instead, I opened the wine – a Dolcetto, obviously, and a lovely bottle of Barbera. White truffles would have to wait another day.


30 thoughts on “The Italians are coming: Part 2

  1. wonderful!! I am sure they all had a great time. I too have never tried trippa, although it was eaten by my family (especially the grandparents) I could never bring myself to trying some. Did you pick up any new words??

    1. I don’t blame you for not trying it, I was just surprised that it didn’t smell bad. We used to have a dog who ate tripe once a week and it stunk out the whole house! I don’t think I picked up any new words, though after three days surrounded by fast-talking Italians, my head is still spinning…

  2. I can’t believe I missed part one!??
    I’ll go back but they look very friendly and happy…..I hear you on the tripe, it’s the texture I can’t stand but with chickpeas I’m sure it was yummy. I’m hankering for white truffles…..must do before Christmas!

    1. They were very good guests (though I have to say that in case they read this)! I’m all about texture when it comes to food, I think that’s my main problem with tripe too. Now white truffles, that’s a different matter…

  3. I don’t like tripe, I have never tried it but I know it is going to be awful. One evening in a restaurant, Mrs Sensible ordered some food that looked like a kebab on a skewer. Mmm that looks nice what is it? I said. Try it she said, so I did.. As I chewed it she told me it was lumaca, it took me a couple of chews before my brain dug out the long lost translation of lumaca to snail….

    1. We went to a restaurant a while back called La Lumaca. Surprisingly, they specialise in snails. I stuck to slightly safer dishes, but a friend went for ‘Snails three ways’ followed by Tajarin with snail ragu. Both actually looked ok all things considered, possibly even better than the tripe!

      1. She hates wasted food, it is a Sicilian thing so I am in trouble. It can’t be saved it was black and almost crunchy. I would have more chance of saving the Italian economy single handed. The snails thing is a good idea.

  4. I wa sexpecting you to find a solution to the cooking for guests predicament; I wasn’t expecting take-away tripe, though. I’ll be happy to share the bottle of wine with PN – I’ll bring the strawers. Although if he’s been strung up by Mrs Sensible usng his own innards because he burned the soup, I’mm be happy to share with another “untripey” person.

      1. WARF 😀 My best freudian slip was in an A level literature essay, when I explained that the reader was “placed in the steam of an old man’s thoughts.” My English teacher is probably still getting over it.

  5. I haven’t even left yet and I already can’t wait to return! There is still so much I haven’t seen! I’m looking forward to following your adventures!!
    And a big NEGATIVE GHOSTRIDER on the Trippa. Nope, Non, Niet, No, Nein… you get my point.

    1. Sorry, was that a yes on the tripe? I’ll send it right over…

      I didn’t realise you were leaving, I think I don’t always get your blog updates. Will have to go back now and have a look. Glad you can’t wait to return though!!

      1. Sadly, yes I am leaving. But I was sly and bought a biglietti in giro! Just in case I can’t take the states and the pettiness. Life here is so good. I just haven’t found a job yet and money is getting tight. Better to be safe than sorry. If I can’t find anything here I’ll go home work, continue with school and save money to return. Hopefully on round two we can all meet! You can hold the tripe thank you.

  6. That actually sounds more delicious than it looks. But where’s the meat? I thought all them Italian folk like their bizarre meats? I’m pretty adventurous. I once had a local Tanzanian delicacy that tasted like ask. Turns out they were deep fried dragon flies.

    1. Yeah, it looked pretty horrible. It did smell good though… The tripe was the meat element, it’s the lining of the stomach of various animals. Nice, eh?

      Deep fried dragon flies sound interesting. How were they?

      1. Maybe not meat as such, but I bet you couldn’t make a vegetarian eat it! It’s really not my kind of thing…

        Salted sand and ash… I’m trying to imagine that. Well done for trying them!

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