Ever wonder what the difference between tortellini and tortelloni is?  Scale.  Stuff with -ini are small and stuff with -oni are large.  And you probably know that stuff with -issimo is superlative – biggest, bestest, most expensive, and so forth.

So you can imagine my interest in an event called POLENTONISSIMO.  Something about the most giant polenta.  In Dorchester.  How cool is that?  Just look at this giant polenta.  Just look at it!  And that’s after 20 people stuffed themselves.

To give you an idea of scale, you can see part of the Ashmont MBTA station at the lower left and a military-issue parachute at the top right.

OK, I exaggerate a bit.  Anyway, the point is, chefs Max Thompson and Chris Douglas brought a Pietdmontese tradition to Tavolo in Dorchester.  The story goes something like this:

Well, the legend goes a little something like this: in sixteenth century Piedmont a little band of coppersmiths got stranded in the teeny village of Monastero Bormida thanks to a pesky spring storm. They asked and received edible aid from the Marquis in the form of maize, flour, eggs, onions and sausage, which they then cooked into frittatas and a gigantic polenta. And thus Polentonissimo, an annual celebration of this fable, was born.

Now you know.  Apparently, in Italy, these gigantic polenta can run into the metric tons.  My grasp of Italian units of measure has been called into question in the past (witness the terrible Florentine steak error of 2003 and the unfortunate Chianti mis-estimation of 2006), but I’m sure you get the idea.

Arriving a bit late with Prof. M, I was just in time to see Douglas and Thompson add a stunning amount of butter to a huge vat of cornmeal mush.  They went on to make sausage right before our eyes (it’s true what they say about the making of sausage, by the way) and concoct a red sauce with perfectly poached eggs.  Look at the results, just look at them!

As if that wasn’t enough – and believe me, it was a dayenu-level of sufficiency – there were starters and dessert too.  Among the starters was frico, a delightful Friulian cheese and potato pancake.  I would happily truck out to Tavolo for Friconissimo if such were offered.  Dessert was a perfect trio of gelato – chocolate, hazelnut and pistachio.

So Cambervillians (and Cambervillans) who never cross the river, there’s some good reasons to find out about the pot of polenta at the end of the red line.