The Toc, a Lake Como food tradition peculiar of the Bellagio area, was once prepared only for very important celebrations such as weddings and baptisms. The farmers prepared it using what they themselves produced: flour, butter and the cheese made from the milk of their cows. Given the considerable amount of butter and cheese needed, the Toc was considered a rich dish.
The cauldron (paiolo) with Toc was usually placed at the center of the hall and the guests sat around it in a circle, as is still done today.
When the cauldron is emptied, it’s the time to proceed to the preparation of the Ragell: the basic ingredient is the red wine to which it is added, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, sugar, of the orange zest and grated lemon and an apple cut into pieces.
The cauldron isn’t perfectly cleaned, it is curious the leftovers of Toc get left in, which will give a characteristic taste to the drink.
The master of the Toc then puts the cauldron on fire with wine and spices and at this point, thanks to the heat, the alcohol contained in the wine evaporate and ignite, creating one spectacular effect of burning cauldron. When the alcohol vapors are exhausted, the Ragell is ready for consumption.
The cauldron is then removed from the fire and placed in the center of the room where using a wooden ladle, we draw the drink that is poured again steaming each of the diners seated in a circle again around the cauldron. And it is in this rite, in this sharing that, also favored by the powers of wine, the socialization of the group reaches its peak.