Carrù and the Fat Ox

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Carrù is famous all over the world for the Fat Ox fair, scheduled  from 12th to 15th December 2019, but the town also offers reasons to visit at different times.

of Nadia Toppino

The Fair has very ancient origins. Since 1473 cattle markets were held in Carrù every two weeks. The first Fair of the Fat Ox dates back to 15th December 1910, it was held by the will of the Municipal Administration and of the Agricultural Committee of Mondovì, to remedy the serious shortage of animals for slaughter and the consequent increase in meat prices.

It has become a traditional commercial and folkloristic event which this year reaches the 109th edition, whose importance is also spread beyond the regional borders, with the aim of promoting the breeding of Piedmontese breed cattle, favouring the consumption of meat from excellent quality.

In fact at the fair, which is held annually on the second Thursday before Christmas, only Piedmontese slaughter cattle are allowed, divided into the categories oxen, steers, calves, cows, heifers and bulls.

The bollito of Carrù

The Fiera del Bue Grasso is an important annual event and always sweetly awaited for the carrucesi, characterized by the preparation of the typical dish: the Bollito, a monument of the Italian gastronomic tradition.

Opulent, fragrant, steaming: the bollito Italiano is one of the most monumental dishes of the Carrù winter gastronomic tradition.

Piedmontese bollito

His simple, but long, requires a patient preparation; for this reasons this recipe is less and less frequent on familiar tables, but it is sincerely loved by those who know how to cook.

There are those who dedicate verses, those who hold fairs and gastronomic evenings, those who promote tasting competitions, those who let themselves be enticed by the sauces that accompany them.

In literature, boiled meat is mentioned in 1887 in “Cucina Borghese semplice ed economica”, published by Vailardi and by an unknown author. To talk about Gran Bollito, Vittorio Emanuele II’s favourite dish, it is right to bring back the “rule of seven” by Giovanni Goria, Academic of the Kitchen.

The Italian Academy of Cuisine has reconstructed the recipe by calling it “Grande Bollito Storico Risorgimentale Piemontese”.

The great Piedmontese mixed boiled meat is made up of seven cuts: tenon, scaramella, thigh muscle, shin, shoulder, pointy bow, priest’s hat (shoulder). The seven ornaments are cooked in different pans: the calf’s head complete with snout, the tongue, the paw, the tail, the hen, the cotechino and the rolata.

The large single dish should be completed with at least three of the seven sauces that tradition offers us.

The most classic are:

  • the green rustic one (bagnet vert), a sauce made from parsley, anchovies, garlic and stale breadcrumbs;
  • the red one (bagnet ross), with tomatoes, garlic, mustard and red vinegar, horseradish, a particularly sour horseradish based sauce or a honey sauce.

Sauces are tasty, colorful and consistent ideas, acid or bittersweet, useful to awaken the palate.

The Sculpture at the Bue Grasso

In December, when at dawn the best cattle arrive in the Piazza del Mercato, there is the custom that to alleviate the cold and the wait, with  the ancient Breakfast of the Wayfarer. All the restaurants in Carrù from 6:00 am until at 19:00, propose raw meat, ravioli in broth, tripe and the bollito, including all seven pieces with seven special sauces, and finally the dessert, all washed down with a good local wine.

But in addition to boiled meat, and always linked to the great Carrù fair, the town is famous for another monument: the Sculpture at the Bue Grasso di Carrù, a stone statue inaugurated in June 2002.

The work constructed from six bronze bas-relief scenes closely linked to the “peasant history and the figure of the ox” from the birth of the calf, to rearing, to slaughtering, to the table and from an additional marble sculpture depicting two yoked oxen realized by the maestro Raffaele Mondazzi, behind a project by the architect Danilo Tomatis.

It was a common desire, which combined the wishes of the administration, traders, artisans of the country, direct farmers and breeders. An artistic and evident way to recognize the important role that the animal has played in the history of Carrù, and at the same time to celebrate the activity of farmers, artisans and wine growers of the territory.

The statue is positioned in the square, together with some coloured benches and the most characteristic giant bench in Gold, from which to enjoy the magnificent landscape.

Therefore every moment is good to visit Carrù, and to taste the monumental Piedmontese boiled in one of the typical city restaurants.

Where to eat:

  • Osteria del borgo, owned by the Lubatti family, was founded in 1997 in the centre of Carrù, a restaurant with typical cuisine where boiled meat and everything that revolves around Piedmontese cuisine reigns
  • Restaurant Palazzo di Mezzo, restaurant of the traditional Carrù specialty meats, ravioli  and homemade desserts.
  • Trattoria Vascello d’Oro, a typical Trattoria owned by the Cravero family, it offers authentic Piedmontese cuisine from the Langhe, with Gran Bollito Misto di Bù di Carrù.
  • Ristorante Bue Grasso, it proposes Piedmontese cuisine with “Bollito di Carrù” as specialty.
  • Agriturismo I Magnin, situated in a suggestive naturalistic position, on the outskirts of Carrù, has a large hall for ceremonies, recreational areas for children and a large parking lot
  • Ristorante Moderno, opened in the 50s, has great experience in mixed boiled meat accompanied by 7 sauces, produced with ancient Piedmontese recipes.

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