What are the food customs of Lent? The forty days that separate the Carnevale from the EasterThey are called Lent according to the Catholic religion and, above all in the past, they were subject to food restrictions which prohibited the consumption of certain types of ingredients. In Lent animal fats and meat are not contemplatedwhich is why we say that eat lean.
Today, fortunately, we are far from the period in which observing Lent was an obligation, but this could be a time for purify your body before indulging in the rich Easter recipes. As with all traditional recipes, even those of the Lenten period, they vary according to the regions of Italy. The customs and ingredients are different, as it should be, because each territory has its fruits according to the season.
What can you eat in Lent
The Lenten period, at least when it is not observed very scrupulously, is not so bad from the point of view of “allowed” ingredients. All are allowed vegetables and legumesil pesce and the panebut also the polenta.
What you can’t eat in Lent
In the past, those who observed Lent following not only the spiritual part, but also the food one, could not eat carne throughout the period and in any case never on the Friday before Easter. Also prohibited animal fats (butter, lard, lard) together with egg and you have dairy products.
Although Lent is no longer observed in a very active way, you will certainly have heard the saying “make a foil”, which really means to avoid eating a certain food (usually sugars or fats) for these forty days. This can only be good for our body. In addition, there are numerous delicious Lenten recipes that deserve to be known and tried, if only for rediscover the historical flavours and because the culture of a country or a period also depends on what was put on the table.
Cod and stockfish
Cod and stockfish have always been considered important ingredients in this period. Excellent the fried codtypical of Neapolitan and southern Italy cuisine which can be prepared both in larger slices and in more practical ones crunchy bites. The recipes are also very tasty Genoese stockfishtypical of Liguria, and that of Codfish In Wet characteristic of the Veneto. Cod and stockfish they are the same part of cod, only that the first is preserved in salt, while the second is dried in the air. The cod must therefore be well washed before its preparation, in some cases it was even left to soak in milk to refine its flavour. Stockfish must be regenerated and left to soak in water or milk to recover its softness.
The first courses of Lent
There are many pasta recipes typical of Lent. Among these are the pasta with sardinestypically Sicilian and particularly tasty and cheap. This first course is very simple to make and you can obtain a variant of it by adding the wild fennel. Even the spaghetti with anchovy sauce they are one of the typical recipes of the period. What we know today as anchovy sauce, in Roman times was the longa condiment that was obtained by squeezing the sardine of the buyer. Another typical dish of this period that anticipates Easter is that of lean lasagna. Typical of the Piedmontese tradition, these lasagna don’t contain meat, but chopped capers and anchovies. The classic lasagne di magro were then replaced with the white lasagna with vegetableswhich are perfect for delighting other times of the year as well, especially spring which sees the explosion of colors and flavors of dozens of vegetables.
The other dishes of Lent
In addition to first courses, there are also Lenten recipes that can be considered main courses or single courses. It is the case of Scammaro omelette, a pasta omelette that is prepared without eggs. This is one of the typical dishes of Naples and it is a quite dated recipe. The first notes of this preparation date back to 1837, when the Duke Buonvicino included it in a gastronomic volume on Neapolitan specialties. It seems that the first version of this omelette was commissioned by clerical institutions precisely for Lent, the time of the year in which it was necessary to follow a lean diet. In this omelette, therefore prepared without meat and without eggs, the main ingredients are oil, garlic, raisins, olives, capers, anchovies, pine nuts and parsley. The spaghetti, flavored with this sautéed condiment, they are sautéed in a pan until they form a light and pleasant crust. As a preparation technique, they closely resemble spaghetti all’Assassinabut in the white version.
Lenten gastronomy also has other ingredients in its basket such as le herring, which in the past were dried or preserved in brine. There is a curiosity linked to this fish and to Lent and it is really a representation. In the Middle Ages this period was represented precisely by an elderly, barefoot and rather thin woman who was holding a herring in her hand. This fish was that of the poor and it seems that a single unit was enough for a single family. The recipe is excellent herring in salad with apples and that of marinated herring. Another typical recipe of this period is the Cappon Magro, a curious name for a fairly elaborate recipe of Ligurian origins. It is a kind of seafood salad with different fish and shellfishcombined with a green sauce with pleasantly acidic notes.
Lent bread is undoubtedly the rosemary breadobtained from a classic dough based on flour, water and yeast, to which is added a very fragrant minced rosemary e raisins. These sandwiches are usually prepared in small, slightly flattened pieces. Excellent for a snack, but also to accompany the dishes of a more traditional lunch.
Among the sweets of Lent stand out i maritozzi, but know that there are different versions. The most famous ones are the Roman Maritozzi, small and soft round and shiny sandwiches that embrace a generous filling of whipped cream. There are other variations, such as the Maritozzi Marches which are slightly elongated and those from Puglia which are intertwined. The filling, in addition to the sweetened cream, may also include raisins and candied orange peel.