Dorno, province of Pavia (Lombardia) — Q: When is a pumpkin more than just a pumpkin? A: When it’s a bertagnina! This past weekend was supposed to have been a huge feast at the Sagra della Zucca Bertagnina, with the odd-shaped pumpkin presented in several ways: in risotto, ravioli, baked, agrodolce (sweet-sour), as a jam and in cakes. Unfortunately, we arrived way ahead of schedule and with not much else to do except shop the market stalls, settled on buying one of those Berta babies to go.
The protuberance at the bottom of the pumpkin is what set it apart from the rest of the patch. Bertagnina probably came from bartò or bartòi which, in dornese dialect, signifies berretto, the flat cap that looks so adorable perched atop old men and chic parisian females. The one we purchased weighs 3½ pounds – about the size of a japanese kabocha. There were other food vendors selling everything from salted capers to ‘nduja from Calabria, but I could not say no to these Baci di dorno (Dorno kisses): pumpkin and chocolate “truffles” coated in cocoa powder, crushed amaretti, or chocolate. They were delicious!