There are dishes that before being ingredients, are above all moments. Like the Tóc, a polenta that is eaten with your hands, and therefore you touch, hence the name. It is still prepared by a few like Angelo Becci, who meticulously learned the ancient techniques from the oldest of Bellagio, on Lake Como. Because we often forget that the lake, besides being water, is also land. Peasant land, of laghé, who for years have been nourished and fed with this poor dish around the cauldron, in front of the fire, in the family: here, the deepest meanings of the Tóc. "I prepare the Tóc in particular for the youngest, because I want to make them understand what it means to share the warmth of the family, look into each other's eyes and be together around a cauldron, carrying on these traditions before they disappear".
What is the Tóc
The main ingredients of the Tóc are three: cornmeal, butter is cheese (skinny, like casera). The Tóc, in fact, is a polenta that is prepared for hours, worked with the addition of butter and cheese that gradually swell, as they are slowly incorporated with the rodec, the typical wooden spoon. The doses and the times are fundamental: "I learned from the elderly especially the precision and the ability to mix in the right place". There are various hypotheses about the origin of the name: some believe it is for the noise tóc that makes with the rodec during the preparation; others for the continuous addition of a tòc of butter and cheese. But in reality the name derives from the fact that the Tóc you eat with your hands and then touch. And when you touch with three fingers there are three rules that must respect: it must not grease, it must not burn and must not attack. "The magic of the Tóc is that there is butter but you do not grease yourself, but it does not scald you and is compact but does not stick to your fingers".
How to eat the Tóc
The Tóc differs from the other polenta to be softer, tastier and tastier, far from oily. In the past we ate with the missultìn, or the salty and sun-dried agons typical of the lake; or, in case of missed fishing, with the salami. With time and the change in availability, we started to accompany the Tóc too with lard is bacon, while recently it is often found with cotechino, pig is hen. Usually next to the Tóc never fails miascia: a dry and poor cake from the area, prepared with dry bread, yellow flour, walnuts, figs, pine nuts, apples and pears. Better to avoid cheeses, which are already added in quantity during cooking.
Where to eat the Tóc
The Tóc remains a dish deeply linked to the home, to family. This is why the Tóc feast that the few restaurants that prepare it have made it more a business than a memory or a moment of sharing from such a unifying function. Angelo Becci, but no, because it is his personal story that has tied him so viscerally to the Tóc. It's been ten years now, in fact, since Angelo lost his son Emanuele 30 years because of a leukemia, that before dying told him: "Dad, never stop preparing the Tóc for people and get on with your public relations". So, if Angelo was already determined to carry on this local secular tradition in danger of extinction, for over 20 years he no longer has any doubt and continues to prepare the Tóc on various occasions: at home of people, in restaurants, in schools, at parties, raising funds for thePaolo Belli Association fighting for leukemia. And every time, he dedicates it to his Lele, in particular the moment of the Regel.
It looks like sangria but it is Regel
At the end of the Tóc, something very special and touching is happening, with background music: it's the moment of Regel. As in the past, they are poured into the same pot where the polenta was prepared, wine, liqueurs, fruit, sugar, bay leaves and cloves. The result is first a big fire and then one hot drink exquisite reminiscent of sangria and goes to conclude this ancient rite, which we can still live today thanks to real laghé like Angelo Becci.