Thursday, November 24, 2011

Polenta and wild boar

Italians can’t help themselves; they are slaves to their cravings. With an hour’s notice I once travelled 200kms to the coast because a friend was suddenly stricken with an uncontrollable craving for fresh seafood. Another time I spent three hours in the car because someone decided it would be a good idea to get a steak in a restaurant just outside Florence. Another friend even suggested we take a train to Naples because he fancied a pizza – luckily work commitments put an end to that particular excursion.

A few days back someone suggested a trip to the mountains for polenta and wild boar stew. I should have seen that one coming. We are in the midst of wild boar hunting season here at the moment and Italian cravings tend to be seasonally dictated. From late autumn through to the end of winter everyone here is always talking wild boar and looking to get their fix. ‘Eat it while it’s in season’ - that’s what they say here.

So that’s how I ended up driving in convoy to an off-the-beaten trattoria in the pre-Alps in Lombardy. We took three cars – wild boar has always been a popular choice here. It was a typical Alpine trattoria: rustic, hearty seasonal fare, a roaring fire, a warm welcome and a wonderful atmosphere. The polenta was local – a variety known as Taragna, a blend of coarse ground corn flour and buckwheat which takes about 45 minutes to cook. The stew was rich and moreish. Large chunks of wild boar cooked for hours in wine to the point where the meat simply fell off the bone. It might well have been a long drive but no one was complaining. Here’s to seasonal cravings!


  1. Sounds really yummy Mario. We had polenta last night as a matter of fact (minus the wild boar though). Aussies can also travel miles to eat. Once my uncle drove over 100kms (I was visiting him - he is Melbourne based) to take me to dinner at a restaurant he really likes.

  2. Australia is such a large country Cathy. Italy is long and narrow which means that you are never too far away from the mountains or the sea. So we are spoiled in that sense. You feel like a plate of fritto misto, you drive to the coast. You fancy wild boar or venison, you have a choice of the Alps or the Apennines.