Sagra del ranocchio (Frog festival)

 

Italy is rife with sagre (plural of ‘sagra’), festivals dedicated to whatever typical a place can offer – from unusual sports to forgotten musical instruments and genres, or more frequently food and wines. A few of them are very important events that mobilize whole towns, most sagre are just pale excuses to shake up the village and have fun in the main square in the name of something you could really also find anywhere. Then yet another category pops up from time to time. These are the sagre that retain the original spirit of really highlighting something so unique that attending the sagra becomes pretty much the only possible occasion to have an otherwise inaccessible gastronomic experience. This is the case of the Sagra del ranocchio in Conselice, a very small village in central Italy. ‘Ranocchio’ is Italian for young frog – a rather unusual ingredient in Italian cuisine that here is however so revered to even have a statue dedicated right in the main square. The main local recipe uses it for risotto, but at the sagra you can also taste it fried and in a tomato sauce. If eating frogs feels too French for you, don’t worry: the food stalls also offer other dishes typical of that area, like cold cuts from mora romagnola pork, an especially prized variety.

What also makes this sagra stand apart from many similar events are its side events, all of them pretty unique. Among several bands playing during the three-days affair you will find in example various virtuoso of frusta romagnola – originally a buggy whip, locally used as a musical instrument too. Even the selection of sport tournaments is really quirky: what about the national spinning top competition? Or the darts tournament, maybe, especially considering that darts are practically non-existing in Italy? Weirdness pops up everywhere at this event. Take in example a rather normal thing like its historical cars exhibition: it is also the setting for a drifting competition… between radio-controlled model cars! Once again, Italy proves itself more varied than anyone can imagine…