33rd Sagra del Mais

Albonese, Pavia – 12 miles from Valle Lomellina where we had gone to that snail sagra earlier this month. I was ready to dismiss this celebration for corn – actually polenta, to be precise – since we had already been to several others in the past. But something about polenta with asino (donkey, which I’ve never tried before) was too unusual to resist. Just for the record, I’ve tasted horse and while it was alright I wouldn’t eat it again. My conclusion is that donkey has a milder (sweeter?) taste, much like how veal compares to beef.

As we continue on our quest to reach the 100th sagra mark, it’s a relief to come upon a sleepy-town sagra like this one where the entire experience feels like Sunday lunch at mamma’s. The menu, from polenta to beverages, stood to one side of the cashier. Select and pay for your order and in return you get a string of receipts, one for each dish. Take a seat among the wide expanse of communal-style tables and sit tight until someone comes to retrieve your order. We were among the first ones to arrive and didn’t have to queue at the cashier. In about 10-minutes a server came to collect our receipts and not long after we were oohing/aahing over this.

Polenta e asino

Polenta with asino – 8€. Thinly sliced and melt-in-your-mouth tender. If I didn’t know it was donkey I’d never have guessed that I was salivating over Shrek’s sidekick! I’d be willing to bet that donkey makes a good contender for teriyaki, but let’s not go all the way there.

Polenta e funghi

Polenta with funghi (pioppini) – 7€. I believe they’re also known as black poplar mushrooms and are they ever so tasty. There was bits of tender pork in there too.

Polenta e frittatura

Polenta with frittura – 7€. The frittura was supposed to be fried pork but the texture wasn’t anything like what I expected. It was like the plate above only without the mushrooms. Still good eating all the same, and we also had a side order of grilled onions and peppers (2.50€) to round out the meal. They served beer on tap which did wonders to quell the heat but made us too full for dessert. On the way out of Albonese I had to stop to admire the rice fields all around us which are just about ready for the harvest. Ma che bella campagna!

Rice field in the Lomellina

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