Polenta is one of the typical foods of our area. It is the result of a mixture of cornmeal (by us often mixed with buckwheat flour) water and salt and cooked strictly in a copper pot. During cooking it should be continuously stirred with a whisk, either by hand or electrically. In ancient times, it was cooked over a fireplace fire and stirred continuously with a rather long, stick-like wooden ladle.
Polenta is an accompaniment (instead of bread) as well as a side dish to our dishes. Ideal with fish (such as stewed or battered missoltini or cod) and meat (rabbit, pork, kid, lamb) in a variety of cookings (roasted, stewed, salmi, casseoula), with fried eggs, cheese and mushrooms.
In specific locations around our lake, it is enjoyed as a single dish, adding, in different ways, two very hearty foods: cheese and butter.
Here on the west shore of the central lake, in Tremezzina, people then eat“polenta uncia“: adding alpine cheese and melted butter to the cooked polenta.
On the opposite shore, in Bellagio, the“toch” was born instead, where cheese and butter are mixed in the cauldron with flour until they become a perfect amalgam. You take the toch from the pot with your wooden spoon and bring it to your mouth with your hands. The toch is enjoyed with pieces of boiled chicken, boiled cotechino, cured meats and missoltini, i.e., dried lake agoni. Toch is a convivial dish: it is usually enjoyed in the company of friends or relatives, all sitting around the pot.
Finally, in the upper lake area,“polenta taragna,” similar to polenta uncia, but where the same ingredients, cheese and butter, are inserted during cooking, is widespread.
At this point, if you have not already done so, we recommend that you try it, if not in all of them, but at least in some way-it is worth it.