Yes – food again! We just cannot help it, but we did state quite clearly earlier on that Italians jump at any good excuse to have a party! In this case, they have been clinging onto the same excuse for a good many years – 63 to be precise. Because the “Festa della Trota” (trout festival), is the oldest yearly traditional fair of Bedonia, which started out by pure chance in 1954, due to an exceptional catch of trout in local rivers. On the third sunday of August that year, it was decided to share the abbundance of fish with all the townspeople and vacationers, in a menu of fried fresh trout, a slice of polenta and a glass of white wine. The offering was so much appreciated, that this fish lunch became a tradition from then onwards, and is still going strong today. Times change, and unfortunately it is not possible to give participants a free meal any more, but the very reasonable prices allow a family to enjoy not only fried trout and plain polenta, but also grilled trout, polenta with gorgonzola cheese, chips and desserts without going bankrupt!
The festa takes place in the main square of Bedonia, above which the town hall is situated, where tables and benches are set up in front of a dance floor. Along the back of the square the kitchen area buzzes with activity as approximately 30 volonteers prepare the food; townsmen in a show of muscles mixing steaming polenta in an enormous cauldron (it gets to be really heavy going after a while!), other helpers busy frying the trout and chips in gigantic deep fryers, yet others dealing with the grilled fish……all in an atmosphere of gaiety and fun. The service at the tables is very efficient and avoids having too many people running around and getting in the way – you go and buy tickets for whichever meal you choose, then sit down and wait till one of the many enrolled youngsters come and collect them. Then you get rapid full service at the table, without ever having to move…..very pratical and relaxing!
The great thing about this party is that so many townsfolk take part, and it is fun to meet up with everyone, stop at tables for a chat and a laugh, see someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, switch tables and sit with them in order to catch up on all the latest news…..this is what living in a small mountain town is all about – people.
Pleasant background music accompanies the lunchtime session, but when the evening meal is in full swing, the stage suddenly comes to life when the orchestra begins playing, and the dance floor quickly fills up with couples eager to work off the polenta! For those who prefer not to dance, a bottle of wine and a chat with other non-waltzers is just as good an alternative, so everyone is happy!
Although this event is a highlight of the Bedonia summer, it is also the last festa of the hot season. Still to come are the “Festa del Tartufo” in October, and “CioccolaTaro” – a festival which revolves around chocolate – in November, but although in the first case it is still possible to eat outside under the protection of an ample tent, by November all signs of the summer have sadly disappeared. For the “CioccolaTaro”, restaurants of the area collaborate in preparing special menus – however we will go into that in more detail later on!
But no matter – we have next year to look forward to, and summer will be back…with a vengeance!