Lifestyle

Bagna cauda – raw vegetables with hot anchovy dip by Richard Olney

“It’s very messy,” says Lulu [Peyraud, winemaker of the famous Tempier estate]. “It is best eaten out-of-doors and it has to be eaten standing up, with the apéritif. Each time one dips a vegetable into the sauce, a piece of bread must be held beneath the dripping vegetable between the pot and the mouth. You need lots of anchovies and lots of olive oil, not so much garlic, and very little vinegar. These proportions are all right for 8 well-bred people, but there are always some gens mal élévés who dip their bread in the sauce – for them, you need to make a lot more.”

Prepare a table away from that at which lunch will be served. Place a hot plate or other warming device at the centre, a basket of thinly sliced baguettes, and platters containing bouquets of raw vegetables all around. Except for the artichokes, from which leaves should be torn, one by one, as they are eaten, all the vegetables should be cut, ready for dipping. Forks should be handy for any vegetables or vegetable ends that are difficult to dip by hand. Choose from among the following (washed, crisped in ice water, if necessary, but served dry):

Serves 8
coarse sea salt a large pinch
pepper
fresh savory leaves a large pinch, or crumbled dried savory
garlic 4 cloves, lightly crushed and peeled
salted anchovies 10, rinsed and filleted, or 20 fillets
red wine vinegar 1 tsp
olive oil 150ml
inner leaves of romaine lettuce plus the hearts, split into quarters (or, better, whole 7-10cm untransplanted garden romaine, freshly pulled, yellowed baby leaves removed and roots trimmed)
Belgian endive blemished outer leaves removed, bottoms trimmed and split into quarters
hearts of celery split into quarters
small, very white heads of cauliflower broken into florets
spring onions
fennel bulbs outer stalks removed, split, and sliced vertically
radishes freshly pulled, leaves attached
small carrots peeled (not scraped), stems attached (or carrot sticks)
small courgette split in two, each half sliced lengthwise into strips
elongated sweet green salad (Italian) peppers split in two, core and seeds removed, and cut into strips
baby artichokes outer leaves removed
cherry tomatoes or plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded, forks needed

In a marble mortar with a wooden pestle, pound the salt, pepper, savory and garlic to a smooth liquid paste. Add the anchovy fillets and pound to a paste. With the pestle, stir in the vinegar, then the olive oil, and transfer to a poêlon or other earthenware casserole. Heat gently, stirring the while, until hot but far from boiling (test with your finger). Remove to the hot plate at the service table. Throughout the service, the sauce should remain hot, but it should never boil; each time that a vegetable is dipped in the sauce, it should be stirred around to keep the anchovy and the oil from separating.