Carignano (Torino) – it goes by several names – sunroot, Jerusalem artichoke, topinambour – yet in this corner of Piemonte, Helianthus tuberosus – ciapinabò in dialect – starts and ends the meal in mid-October of each year. Seeing how this sagra involves a root veggie not often presented at the dinner table, I think it has got to be one of the most unusual ones in our travels.
The first time I tried topinambour was at a friend’s bagna cauda party and I would say that along with cardoons, this tuber is downright essential for throwing an authentic gathering, piemontese-style. What I didn’t know was how versatile it can be in the kitchen. An extensive menu at the sagra made it impossible to try everything – they even had a version of bagna cauda that has no anchovies and is made with what else, topinambour! Steamed or boiled, it tastes like artichoke hearts, but as fried chips or ciafrit (top photo), they are really addictive, especially hot out of the deep fryer and kissed with a sprinkle of salt.
L-R: sagra menu, ricotta pie with red onion sauce and pea puree, bacalao and topinambour.
L-R: topinambour cannelloni, bunet with caramalized topinambour, stuffed baked peaches with topinambour sauce.
Of course we couldn’t pass up on the vendor selling them at 4€/kilo, and other stands throughout the piazze and streets sold a variety of products from around Italy. Enjoy the tour as we take a walk around the town!