Art and culture

Conscripts' party

March 21, 2011

Taste is genius’ good sense (Chateaubriand, Essay on English literature).

When not everybody was obliged to serve in the army, there was the habit to cast lots using numbers written on little papers: the ones who had the highest numbers wouldn’t serve.

Before leaving, the conscripts used to organize a lunch for everyone, followed by a ball. It was a happy moment, when everybody could have fun before leaving.

This kind of meeting has always been a rite to sign important moments in a man’s life: the christening, the army, the wedding and death.

This one, called disné ‘d tiré ‘l bièt, is the most important, being an end and a new beginning at the same time. It’s the moment when the boys become men, he is walking through the door from boys’ to adult life.

And the conscripts were twenty years old, when everything is beautiful and possible. It’s the most enjoyable and pure disné ‘d la leva; then, all the others, organized every five years, don’t have the same power; there are often problems, quarrels, delusions.

The conscripts don’t have these problems. Once the conscripts used to spend three whole days together before leaving. They were days charged with a symbolic value, an initiation to life of boys who were maybe physically older than today’s twenty-years-olds, but surely were much more innocent.

In composing this menu, I have chosen dishes that belong to the most genuine tradition: the raw meat and the filled onions as appetizers, together with a cardoon flan with bagna caoda, a bit more new but delicious.

Then there are the tajarin with a chicken liver sauce (very few people still remember this sauce, the only one that can make tajarin truly unforgettable), the finanziera (a difficult dish, that is either loved or hated; there are no other ways), the brasato al Barolo, the “Martine” pears timbale (unfortunately, a forgotten cake).

All the wines are red: Dolcetto, Barbera and Barolo; after the lunch, Barolo Chinato, aromatic and glorious drink.

So, long live today’s youth, from someone who was twenty at the end of the Sixties, those great and colourful Sixties! Long live those young boys born then.

After the Eighties, the age of hope, I wish them all the best things for the next millennium, along with a suggestion: add a place at your table, always.