Let's have a walk around Sicily
Little breads for a soar throat
by Rosanna Paternostro
In Sicily you know…. the smell of warm bread often fills up the homes and hearts, and delights every palate.
Women make an effort in dough for breads and schiacciate (mash bread) that pleasantly is consumed seasoned with a little ‘ oil and a pinch of oregano, along with a good glass of wine and why not even a piece of tumazzu, which is Sicilian cheese.
Often though, in certain times of the year, bread takes on curious forms and names.
It is the case of the Panuzzi of San Biagio they are shaped by Assunta, the lady who hosts us in her home.
She shows us how she masters an all-female “know-how” handed down from generations.
Nar: Hello Assunta
She: Hello Rosanna
Nar: What are you doing?
She: I am making Panuzzi of San Biagio that are need it for the sore throats. Once a child swallowed a fish bone that was left in his throat. The legend says that that day there was a saint who miraculously brought out the bone from the throat of the child, saving him. And from that day, every eve of San Blagio on February 1st, we prepare these breads that are offered for the goodwill of the Saints.
In Sicily every excuse is good to party or to cook something!
Especially from spring until late autumn, it is a feast of something or a party of some saint everywhere!
She: You put the flour in a bowl, then melt the yeast, putting a pinch of salt, then you add water and you start to knead.
Nar: Do you do them every year?
She: Yes, yes I do them every year
Nar: But always, since when?
She: Since I’ve been married every year.
Nar: And your mom used to do it as well?
She: Yes my mom, my sisters. Even now they are all at home preparing these little breads
Nar: What these little cuts represent
She: They representst the throat , in memory of the miracle of San Biagio. If you eat it,the sore throat really goes away… At least… Sometimes… These breads are divided in church and among people, often I don’t bring any at home.
Nar: You dont bring anything home?
She: You can say that they do not have any left, because two for her and two for her.. and for my sisters and to the one next to my grandaughter, to my daughter – in – law . We are used to making them now. Like my husband says “Chistu nun tu scordi a fare u panuzzo, when I ask you something and you forget
These Sicilian husbands: always grumbling!
We put some flour on it…
She: Here, when you do the first cut with the knife you do a cross. Now I’ll fix this white tablecloth that we will put right here.
Nar: Do you usually do these breads by yourself?
She: By myself, what does it takes, it takes time to stretch them though… We are born by ourself and we do them by ourself…
Just like the Sicilian wants: sign of the Cross, kiss the dough and work in an aura of sacredness
Now we ‘ll put them in the oven
Nar: How are they now?
She: They are still white, they are not cooked, and they are still raw.
Nar: Do you understand it from the color?
She: Yes, yes
The breads are finally ready and Assunta is preparing me some to take home.
I have cheese and olives.
Wine as well.
And what is there better here in Sicily!