Eat up the culture at Toronto’s first Italian Sagra festival!
This month Toronto will host its very first Italian Sagra and it promises to be a most exciting event, full of culinary and socio-cultural wonders.
What’s a Sagra?
Sagra entails family, friends, traditions and good food.
In brief, a sagra is a rural festival held in the open air with folk music, dancing and games, often times organized around the celebration day of a Patron or Patroness Saint or for the end of the harvest season.
Many sagre are based around one or more culinary specialities, which can usually be sampled in the various booths. These festivals normally take place during the summer months, but are also during autumn, serving seasonal food and local products.
Some very famous sagre in Italy are the Sagra della Zucca in San Carlo (Ferrara), dei porcini (mushrooms) in Cortona (Arezzo), del tartufo (truffle) in Alba (Cuneo), degli asparagi in Mambrotta (Verona) and so many more.
The term “sagra” derives from the Latin “sacra” which means sacred things in relation to the consecration of a holy place or building, like a church. Originally, celebrations and festivities would have followed the religious event. Throughout the centuries, the religious aspect has ceased or has taken second place. In fact, sagre are orchestrated in rural areas in the countryside and retain some of the ancient elements of pagan traditions.
If the season is not the warmest, a large tent can be arranged and set up. There are usually lights, some carousels and merry-go-rounds.
A sagra is a sagra only if…
– you go with your friends (old and new) and family. It is a community moment where families and friends get together, everybody is welcomed, from children to nonni. It is a moment to share stories from the past, memories and anecdotes from previous sagre;
– you are ready to enjoy some homey food that is delicious and greedy, equally well concocted and cooked with lots of love. And the food, prepared with local ingredients, comes at an affordable cost;
– you dress up comfortably, purposely lacking any sense of style;
– there is a charity raffle (a pesca di beneficenza) where one can buy tickets to get some cheap tokens (hence you usually buy many tickets!), expecting to get some small, funny (often useless) prices. In the end, it is done for a good cause and not to win a Ferrari;
– there is some music going on: perhaps a local band playing, maybe a dance floor where people can dance some mazurkas and waltzes or to the notes of some popular contemporary hits;
Crucial at every sagra is the army of volunteers who cook, help out, set the tables, keep the place clean and so forth.
Do not expect white gloves and linen tablecloths: a sagra is a cheap but decorous happening, so only paper tablecloths, paper towels and paper napkins are allowed.
What to expect from the first Toronto Sagra and why we support it
Famiglia Baldassarre is a local business officially launched in 2010 by Leandro Baldassarre. His manufacturing business is a paradise for handmade-pasta lovers and gourmets that opened his gates to the main public in the Spring of 2018, for the joy of the many foodies in the city.
Leoandro has gathered his energy to organize the very first Italian Sagra in Toronto this Fall of 2019.
The first ever Sagra di Toronto will be celebrating two of favourite pasta dishes ever, using two unmistakably Canadian fall ingredients. They are getting together with food industry friends from across the GTA to put on a paper plate feast featuring heaps of salumi, pasta, beer, wine, arrosticini, gelato and more.
There will plenty of tortelli di zucca (traditional sweet pumpkin tortelli with butter and Reggiano D.O.P.), thick fresh egg spaghetti with duck ragù and arrosticini (grilled lamb skewers).
The event is currently sold out, but you can get an exclusive access to it only through ScuolaScuola. How? Send your RSVP as soon as possible to [email protected] !