Recipe: Pasta e Ceci
Primo piatto, Recipes
Recipe: Pasta e Ceci
March 13, 2015 at 10:48 pm 0
Pasta with Chick Peas Recipe by Giulia Biviano Cucina di Casa Nostra Photograph by Giuseppe Biviano INGREDIENTS    Serves 8
  • 300g dried chick peas, soaked overnight in plenty of cold water
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 1 kg dried pasta, (Ditalini is good)
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 cup silvery beat, chopped
  • 5 gloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup wild fennel, chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil, for cooking
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (optional)
METHOD Drain and rinse the chick peas thoroughly. Place the drained chick peas in a saucepan, then add the onion, bay leaves, garlic, a few grind of pepper and enough water to cover the chick peas by about 5cm. Add a 1/4 cup of olive oil, add the chopped silvery beat and the fennel, then cover with the lid and bring to the boil. Cook over a low heat for one hour or until the chick peas are tender. Keep checking the water level and if it reduces below the chick peas, then top up to just cover them. Remove the bay leaves from the pan. Keep warm. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water until al dente. Drain and pour the cooked pasta into the warm chick peas and mix thoroughly. Leave to stand in the pan covered for about 10 minutes so that the flavours will infuse. Serve in bowls drizzled with a little extra olive oil and chilli flakes if so desired.
Celebrating the Feast of San Giuseppe Aeolian Style
Stories & Poetry
Celebrating the Feast of San Giuseppe Aeolian Style
March 13, 2015 at 10:48 pm 0
tileIt was the year 1835. Somewhere off the coast of Naples the fishing boat, U Mulinciana, was caught in violent combat with the tempestuous god of the sea, Poseidon. Having departed from the village of Malfa, Salina, the boat was laden with a cargo of capers, Malvasia and local wines to trade in return for dried pasta and legumes. Scandalised by the seafarer’s fervent faith, the jealous god unleased wave after wave of his contempt upon their boat. He blasted the winds across their voices that implored Christ’s earthly father, San Giuseppe for his aid with a litany of promises to feed the poor. Then suddenly, with a deafening crack, the ominous clouds parted and the hand of San Giuseppe picked up the wooden boat and delivered it to safety, plonking it out of Poseiden’s way in the bay of Naples. ‘Che miracolo!’ they cried in gratitude, ‘San Giuseppe has saved us!’ homeslider23

An Aeolian Tradition Begins

Every Italian loves a miracle and the survival of a sea storm was reason enough to lay claim to a supernatural event. One can only imagine how the drama escalated once the fishermen returned to Salina and the story spread like wildfire across the island. And so it was that the tradition of u quadara (cauldron) di San Giuseppe was born. As promised, the return cargo of U Mulinciana was distributed to the poor via a minestra (soup) of chickpeas and pasta prepared by the menfolk themselves in a massive copper cauldron perched over a wood-fired pit. In the years that followed, this event was re-enacted on March 19, the official feast day of San Giuseppe by the fishermen who stored their boats at Punto Scario, passing down instruction from father to son. Nowadays, this responsibility is upheld by a select group of men who have been bestowed this honour as protectors of the secret recipe of u quadara. My cousin Roberto, a newly accepted apprentice to the group tells me that it will take years of assistance before he is entrusted with this privileged knowledge! homeslider232

La Tavola di San Giuseppe

The tavola (table) of San Giuseppe was already a strong tradition of the Sicilians that resettled the Aeolian Islands after Barbarossa had pillaged them in 1544. Legend has it that sometime during the Middle Ages, the people of Sicily were in crisis as the rains had not come for years and the land had become parched and fruitless. In desperation, the people prayed to San Giuseppe, their patron saint, to intervene, promising to prepare a grand feast in his honour. Responding to their pleas, the heavens opened soaking the lands that gifted abundant crops of fava beans saving them from starvation. In gratitude, huge, public banquet tables were dressed by wealthy families who invited the less fortunate people of the village to partake in a buffet of meatless foods that included decorative breads called cudureddi and piles of fava beans. The festivities often started with a procession lead by an elderly man, a young woman and a young male child dressed as the Holy Family, who were then seated at the head of the table. To this day, this tradition is continued with great devotion in many Sicilian villages and as well as many Sicilian migrant communities throughout the world.

La Tavuliata di San Giuseppe

It is unsure whether the Sicilian tradition of la tavola was upheld as a public celebration prior to the miraculous occurring of 1835. However, miracles have the effect of changing lives and the lives of those simple fishermen stirred great piety amongst the Malfitani who still maintain the custom fervently. Today, the townspeople of Malfa prepare a variety of dishes made from local produce sourced from the earth and sea. These offerings are brought to the piazza and placed on a long table adorned with a white tablecloth and freshly cut flowers. homeslider233 Just as in other parts of Sicily, the festivities commence with the parade of the Holy Family that begins at the church of San Lorenzo and meanders to the piazza in front of the eighteenth century church of Sant’Anna. Accompanied by a small group of musicians playing traditional tunes, the Holy Family take their place at la tavuliata while the pasta e ceci prepared in the two quadare is shared with the entire community. homeslider234 The table’s offerings of all manner of polpetti, salads, fish and vegetable dishes with a variety of typical Aeolian sweets including sfinci d’ova, pasta squadata and many types of traditional biscotti are then offered to the public who represent the poor of centuries past. homeslider235 La tavuliata di San Giuseppe has become a much-loved public event, drawing crowds from neighbouring islands and Sicily. After all, the Italians love a party almost as much as they love a miracle! Viva San Giuseppe! SOURCES: Brundu, Antonio. L'Isola, Vele Bianche Editori Srl Piazza Matteotti 7, Registrazione Tribunale di Napoli n. 25 (2003). Racheli, Gin. Eolie di Vento e di Fuoco, Milano, U. Mursia editore S.p.A. (1977).   WAIT, THERE’S MORE… If you are wishing you were there, check out this youtube clip uploaded by Santino Ruggera from A Cannata to see last year’s festa in full swing. Or if you would like to try making pasta e ceci this March 19, click on this link to find a recipe although you must be aware that this is not the actual recipe guarded by the protectorate of Malfa! recipebutton

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