Tonight is a perfect winter night for an Italian “hot bath”. A bubbly incensual infusion of olive oil, butter, garlic and anchovies called a “bagna cauda“. A hot bath for dipping chunks of crusty bread, celery stalks, steamed onions and cardoons (thistles). This hot dip from Piemonte shares Italian cold weather cuisine with a winter brasato and a Valdostana fondue.
Typically served in a copper cauldron or terra-cotta pot placed in the middle of the table it is designed for communal food bathing.There are several variations on this sauce including one with an enormous amount of garlic (5 heads) that simmers in milk for an hour before entering into the bath. In fact heavy cream is sometimes added to make this a warm milk bath that will have you envious of the ingredients that enter the ritualist pool. For the rite of bagna cauda is one of a convivial atmosphere with friends and family gathered around the simmering pot of sauce waifing through the air entering into every pore of your being leaving you awash in a satisfying glow.