Magia in Italy!
Years before Christianity and later Catholicism took hold, many parts of Italy were infected with witches, paganism and, of course, magic. But even with all the rituals and teachings of the Catholic church, many of the pagan beliefs have survived. It is believed that if you would go to a traditional house or “masseria” on a farm in a certain area in Puglia, you were apt to find a Nymphaeum where fairies used to gather and dance in their flowing white dresses in the moonlight, and where they would bury their treasures.
Although this is considered nonsense by the young, there are some of the older generations living in the poorer overlooked towns who still have a story to two to tell. And what better time to nurture back these stories and embellish them than at Halloween.
HALLOWEEN IN ITALY
October 31st is not a national holiday in Italy and it is only until recently that it has become more of a tradition as a day for children. Children will have their day in school after which they dress up and scout around for candy or little treats. Children’s costume parties are held mainly later in the evening as kids in costume head out for more trick or treating. In the city or village center you may find some local shops decorated and ready to hand out candy to the little ones. But it is not the big fest like it is here in the states.
PASTICCIO DI MACCHERONI
Meat and Macaroni Pie
While not really a Halloween recipe, and I offer my apologies now if I offend anyone, but I came across this recipe which I thought sounded a little ghoulish, so I thought quite appropriate for this holiday. I was recently given a copy of a book authored by Pellegrino Artusi first published about 110 years ago and I found this recipe seasonally appropriate, so decided to share.
350 GRAMS MACARONI
170 GRAMS PARMESAN CHEESE
150 GRAMS SWEETBREADS
60 GRAMS BUTTER
70 GRAMS TRUFFELS
30 GRAMS PROSCIUTTO
SOME DRIED MUSHROOMS
GIBLETS – from 3- 4 chickens
GIZZARDS – from 3-4 chickens, gristle removed
DASH OF NUTMEG
1 READY-MADE SHORTCRUST
COCKSCOMBS – from 3-4 chicken
TESTICLES and UNLAID EGGS – any amount favorable
Cook the macaroni only until it is half-way done in salted water and then remove from the water and cook in a brown stock.
Make a half portion of béchamel sauce.
Cook the giblets in butter and salt with a pinch of pepper and moisten them with brown stock. Cut the gizzards and sweetbreads into little bite-size pieces about the size of a nut, after they have cooked. Add prosciutto cut into strips, truffles that are thinly sliced, dried mushrooms that have been softened and some nutmeg.
Select an appropriate size pan and grease with butter. Drain the macaroni of excess sauce and make a first layer on the bottom of the pan and season with grated cheese and scatter with bits of butter. Repeat until you have use all the ingredients and the pan is full
Roll out a sheet of the short-crust dough, first with a smooth rolling pin and then with a ridged one, until it is the thickness of a coin. Use this to cover the macaroni completely. Then roll 2 separate strips of dough, two fingers wide, and place them crosswise on top to strengthen the dough. Bind the dough all around the pan with a wide strip of dough. Brush the entire surface with egg yolk and send the pasticcio to the baker or bake in your Dutch oven until done. Then serve to anyone wishing to eat his fill….if they dare!!