What is Bagna Cauda?
Bagna càuda, or càoda (“hot dip” in Italian), is a typical product of Piedmontese gastronomy made with butter, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and salted anchovies. It is traditionally served in special earthenware pans that keep the sauce hot.
History of bagna cauda
This dish with a long history that, although it may seem from the ingredients poor and everyday, is actually a dish for special occasions, of conviviality. It is the dish of fraternity and joy that, according to tradition, is prepared for celebratory moments like the end of the harvest. Bagna cauda is a collective dish that serves to bring people together to celebrate the history and the land of Piedmont.
The origins of the Piedmontese bagna cauda
Although it is usually considered a generically Piedmontese dish, bagna càuda more specifically originates from the territory of Asti, the Langhe, Monferrato, Roero, the Provinces of Cuneo, Alessandria, and the territory that extends south of the city of Turin. Many towns in the region contend for the authorship of this true symbol of its gastronomy.
In reality, however, it seems that the origins of bagna càuda can be found in France, on the coast of Provence, with the name of anchoiade.
The territory of Asti, the Langhe, Monferrato, Roero, the Provinces of Cuneo, Alessandria, and the territory that extends south of the city of Turin all contend for the authorship of this true symbol of Piedmontese gastronomy. In reality, however, it seems that the origins of bagna càuda can be found in France, on the coast of Provence, with the name of anchoiade.
In the Middle Ages the merchants of Asti, during the journeys they made to stock up on salt and anchovies, encountered this extraordinary product and brought it home and introduced it along the routes of their trade that touched the whole territory of what is now southern and northwestern Piedmont. The passage to Italian land naturally involved an adaptation of the Provençal recipe, which was modified, for example, with the use of vegetables.
Recommended vegetables to eat with bagna cauda:
- bell peppers
- boiled potatoes
- Peel and slice the garlic.
- Mix the sliced garlic with the milk in a pot and bring to a boil.
- When the milk boils, turn down the heat to low and let it cook for 15-20 minutes, until the garlic is soft.
- In another pot, warm half the olive oil on very low heat. When it is warm, add the anchovies and mix with a wooden spoon until they are broken into pieces.
- Add the garlic and milk to the anchovies.
- Mix the ingredients and add the rest of the olive oil; do not allow the cream to boil.
- Dip cut, raw vegetables in the bagna cauda and enjoy!
Bagna cauda is the most Piedmontese of sauces, bringing with it a rich medley of flavors. For that reason, its more traditional pairing is a red Barbera, which is typical of southern Piedmont. With its fruity cherry notes and its freshness and depth, it perfectly accompanies the famous vegetable dish.