The Feast of the Dead and the irresistible lightness … of the Muffoletta!
The anniversary of the “Feast of the Dead” is deeply felt and respected on our extraordinary island.
Precisely on November 2nd, ancient traditions connected to the family are renewed and several of these pass, in a tangible way, from the table.
You don’t have to go looking for a real menu, for the commemoration of the dead, but there are some dishes that cannot and must not be missing on the day of November 2. One of these, which stands out above all is the Muffoletta.
Muffulettes, used all over the island, are soft flat cakes of homemade bread, crushed, which are normally combined with freshly milled oil, anchovies in oil, tuma and tomato. The dressing, however, can vary depending on your taste. It represents the synthesis of a very simple and genuine dish: fragrant and very hot bread with excellent local ingredients.
But why are Sicilian muffulettes so called?
This food has an ancient tradition. It seems, in fact, that the term “muffoletta” derives from the Saxon term muffin, that is, focaccina.
It would have been the soldiers of Emperor Frederick II who let us know about it, who left us the habit of flavoring bread with “cumin seeds in order to better preserve it during the long military campaigns.”
The muffuletta, therefore, has been appreciated for about eight hundred years and in Sicily there are many popular festivals and celebrations dedicated to it.
In some Sicilian towns it is traditional to consume the muffuletta during the Day of the Dead, while on 7 December, for example, in Canicattì the bakeries bake muffulettes to be consumed for dinner. The famous pani cu “l’uegliu” (bread with oil, in the local dialect) is a typical local dish, “cunzatu” with the use of mackerel in oil, first salt and spices.
How is the muffuletta born?
From the etymological point of view it is not simple, even if many hypotheses are linked to the Saxon term “muffin”, scone. From some manuscripts we can see the news that some members of the Swabian armies, during their stay in Sicily, flavored their unleavened bread with cumin seeds to increase its conservation and to cover flavors that were not really “very fresh” of foods that were part of the their war stocks.
It is important to remember that cumin seeds have always represented, for natural medicine, a remedy for many intestinal ailments, thus attributing the “healing” properties of the muffuletta.
Today, whatever meaning attributed to it in the past, is supplanted by the desire to savor it on the day of the festival, awaited all year round by gourmets, in which pleasure for sweet and salty blend between the scents of the land of Sicily.
Technician of the Anthropological traditions of the Mediterranean
500 g Flour
300 ml lukewarm water
15 g Fresh brewer’s yeast
10 gr Sugar
15 g Salt
5 g Malt (or honey)
two tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
q.s. Sesame or cumin seeds
Extra virgin olive oil
Flakes of Caciocavallo
Pour the flour, sugar, malt or a teaspoon of honey, salt and water into the mixer, start kneading, add the water with the yeast and continue kneading, as soon as the dough has detached from the walls , pour in the oil and continue to knead until the mixture is smooth.
cover with cling film and let rise until doubled.
Prepare the loaves of about 150 gr each, form the loaves, crushing and spreading them well, and place them on a plate, lined with parchment paper, brush the surface of each loaf with water, sprinkle with sesame seeds (or cumin ) and let rise for an hour.
After the time has elapsed, bake in a preheated oven at 220 ° for 30 minutes, being careful not to let them brown too much. Remove from the oven and season while still hot!
Curated by Mariano Carbonetti – Iocomprosiciliano