Jorge Mario Bergoglio, or as he is known today – Pope Francis – was born in Argentina to Italian parents who came from the Piedmont region of Italy. According to Bon Appetite, one of Pope Francis’ favorite dishes is a type of Italian fondue called Bagna Cauda. It is a savory and warm dipping sauce of olive oil, butter, garlic and anchovies served with lots of vegetables and bread for dipping. It has been called a poor man’s fondue, but the dish was elevated to gourmet status when Craig Claiborne, Food Editor, New York Times, published this obscure Piedmontese dish in the 1960’s. My version includes steamed artichokes and other fresh vegetables I had on hand. To make this a perfect appetizer, serve Bagna Cauda with a nice Barolo wine, one of the best red wines from Piedmont.
Pope Francis’ Favorite Food: Bagna Cauda with Vegetables
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 6- 8 cloves garlic peeled and sliced tissue-thin
- One 2-ounce can anchovy fillets drained and (and rinsed if packed in salt)
- Salt pepper and red pepper flakes to taste
- 2 medium artichokes trimmed and steamed
- Assorted raw vegetables cleaned, and cut in bite size pieces: green beans, broccoli and cauliflower florets, snap peas, radishes, bell peppers, carrots
- Crusty bread for dipping.
- Combine the butter and oil in a saucepan and add the garlic. Cook over the lowest heat for 15 minutes without letting the mixture boil.
- Chop the anchovies and add to the oil. Stir until the anchovies dissolve. Do not let the sauce boil or brown. Season with salt if needed. Keep hot over a candle or spirit lamp. (See note.)
- Prepare an assortment of raw vegetables and arrange on a platter with the steamed artichokes.
- Serve dipping sauce in a small fondue pot, or butter-warmer.