His Majesty the Fat Ox
Sometimes fat is beautiful, especially when it comes to oxen. For almost 400 years, one of Piedmont's most rustic and characteristic competitions has been staged in Moncalvo, where the best examples of Piedmontese cattle are displayed. A much-awaited event that takes us back to distant times, when these animals were an active part of the local economy.
The day starts very early, at the first cold light of dawn in December, and everyone meets under the suggestive porticoes: one by one the best cattle examples arrive accompanied by their proud breeders. Their average age is between 4 and 5 years and they weigh between 10 and 14 quintals: they are calm, white giants, apparently unaware of their beauty and superiority. A specialist jury will judge them, but not before they have enjoyed a nutritious breakfast based on tripe and chickpeas to socialize with all the participants. A bit of hari and make-up, flour instead of powder and scrubbling brush to fix the coat, and these wonders will be ready for the parade in the square in front of a large and respectful public.
Everything is assessed, from gait, bone structure, muscle mass and fat. The hide must be smooth and soft, some compare it to cashmere which, said in the judges' strong Piedmontese accent, sounds a bit funny. Obviously the ox must prove that it has been raised in a healthy environment, where its well-being has been looked after in every detail. Some touch the ox here and there, others pat its mighty hindquarters, others stare into its patient eyes. The judges do not overlook any detail and, in the end, here comes the winner: it is the one who will parade with the caparison on its back, amongst the applause of a cheering crowd. It is indeed a great celebration and you can feel the pride of those who, for years, have been carrying on this tradition that pays tribute to the sacrifices and passion of rural life. Finally, the morning will end with a tasting of boiled meat, but it would be better not to tell the ox, at least not today.
On December the 5th and 12th, the Pranzo della Sagra del Bollito (Boiled Meat Festival) lunch in the area of Piazza Carlo Alberto at a cost of € 25 per person, on reservation. On December the 8th "Buji tut al di" in the area of Piazza Carlo Alberto it is possible to have lunch from 11am onwards with seats.