by Camilla - foodaroundblog


Today is Ash Wednesday which opens Lent’s celebrations.
I have already proposed a dish of sardines, and I’m sorry to repeat myself with this ingredient, but today I just can not help it, because in Italy, in Castel d’Ario, a small rural village near Mantua, there is the famous (in those areas, of course) Bigolada, a popular festival which has ancient origins.
When eating could be an act of disobedience, political and religious! In 1848 the citizens protested against the strict separation between the social classes. The Society of the Carnival (the first company in Castel d’Ario) became the mouthpiece of the class of tenants, artisans and merchants excluded from political power because non-property owners and, not considering bans, promoted a public donation of polenta, herrings, sardines and wine which took place the Ash Wednesday. Since 1920 bigoi with sardines, rustic spaghetti topped with anchovies and sardines, have replaced the original dish, and the spirit of protest has turned into a spirit of sharing. [Sources: Sandro Correzzola “From protest to the party – the Bigolada of Castel d’Ario” Mantua 2006].

The traditional recipe is very very simple, cheap and tasty.

150 g of sardine fillets with salt
400 g of fresh bigoli (or spaghetti with wide diameter)
1 onion
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Clean well the sardines, removing the excess salt. Finely chop the onion and sauté on low heat in the oil, then add the anchovies with a pinch of pepper and let them dissolve slowly in hot oil. Chop the anchovies with a wooden spoon in order to obtain a creamy sauce. In the meantime, bring a pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta, drain it and toss with the sauce.