All About Bagna Cauda

Bagna cauda is traditionally a dish made for Christmas, but it can be enjoyed all year. It’s especially popular when the weather is cold, and a hot, hearty dip served with vegetables or delicious fresh bread is something everyone craves. In a French or Italian household, bagna cauda will be served as an appetizer before Christmas dinner or as a snack on Christmas Eve. 

What Is Bagna Cauda?

Bagna cauda literally means “hot bath,” but it’s really a hot dip. It’s a spicy, flavorful concoction with a lot of garlic and anchovies, making vegetables, bread, or other items tastier. Bagna cauda originated in Provence, France. However, it’s been associated with the Piedmont region of Italy since the 16th century. 

In the past, the upper classes didn’t eat bagna cauda because it was considered to be peasant food. Garlic, anchovies, and other foods that contributed to bad breath were thought to be low-class and only eaten by the poor. In order to elevate the dish to something that showed off a person’s wealth, truffles, salt, and spices were added. Because those things were expensive, only a rich person could afford them. 

In Piedmont, the cost of salt may have contributed to the arrival of anchovies in the region. Piedmont is landlocked, so anchovies are not something that are typically found there. But according to legend, in order to avoid the high tax on salt, merchants would hide salt under baskets of anchovies and transport them to Piedmont. When officials searched the wagons, they would wave them through rather than search through layers of strong-smelling fish. 

What’s In Bagna Cauda?

The main ingredients in bagna cauda are olive oil, chopped anchovies, and garlic. Truffles are sometimes added. And in different regions, salt and other spices are added. But the flavors of the garlic and anchovies are strong enough to carry the dish on their own. Bread is sometimes added as a thickener. 

Bagna cauda is served like fondue. It’s a thick dip that is served in a hotpot to keep it from cooling and congealing. Raw or cooked vegetables are typically dipped into it, but bread, crackers, or other foods can also be dipped.

In the Piedmont region, where the dish is beloved, edible thistles are often served with a pot of bagna cauda for dipping. Other popular foods that are served for dipping are cabbage, celery, carrots, artichoke spears, peppers, and fennel. 

Try Bagna Cauda And Other Delicacies At Mare Oyster Bar

If you want to try bagna cauda or other delicious Italian food and seafood, Mare Oyster Bar has the best options in the Boston area! Our options boast a flavor and level of care that will have you begging for seconds. Make a reservation today to experience bagna cauda and more for yourself!