The Pro Loco and other local thinkers decided to create Re Brutto ma Buono (The Ugly but Good King), and Regina Zabeta (the Zabeta Queen) in February 2017.
The characters were played by Giuseppe De Gasperis and Mary Vercelli. The premiere took place officially with an event in the town square, attended by the town’s pastry chefs, on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday.
The inauguration took place on the fateful Lunzon (Carnival Monday), a Borgomanero tradition. King and Queen visited the restaurants where Lunzon was celebrated, a tradition lost in the mists of time. Apparently, Carnival disturbed the religious services, so the people in Borgomanero decided to celebrate it the day before. And this is still the case today.
The name ‘Brutto ma buono’ (Ugly but good) comes from the town’s typical biscuit ‘Ugly but Tasty’, accidentally created with egg whites and sugar. The ‘discovery’ dates back to 1869, when the pastry chef Viganotti emigrated from the Varese area and moved to Borgomanero, where he opened a pastry shop in Corso Mazzini. During his morning work, Viganotti inadvertently hit eggs and sugar.
The result was ugly but tasty, and it is still a source of pride for the pastry chefs of Borgomanero. For the records: Viganotti was awarded a gold medal in 1905 at the 22nd International Exhibition of ‘Culinarie d’alimentation e d’Hygiene’ at the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris.