Muffuletta - A Piece of Sicily

The Muffuletta since ancient times is the unusual breakfast for the city of Palermo in Sicily on the day of November 2: Commemoration of the Dead, a celebration that is also called the "Feast of the dead".

This much loved loaf is still a simple delicacy that reminds the ancient traditions of Sicilian cuisine. Still warm, soft and fragrant, is sprinkled with crunchy sesame seeds and dressed with extra virgin olive oil, , anchovies, oregano, caciocavallo or ricotta cheese and pepper.

In Sicilian dictionary, muffuletta or muffulettu is a spongy bread and this term could come from France (mou: tender). It was originally called Muffulettu, with three "u", but when it "landed" at Ellis Island between the nineteenth and early twentieth century, even its name has been changed.

It became famous because of the history that binds it to the city of New Orleans. It is there that in 1906, an immigrant originally from Sicily called Salvatore Lupo, opened the Central Grocery at 923 Decatur Street where it began marketing its own version of stuffed focaccia.

A Bread to Celebrate

This is how this Sicilian focaccia, one of the oldest breads born in the cradle of civilization of the grain, is beloved in America and consumed by Americans as the "Muffuletta Sandwich", while in Italy it is almost forgotten. The shape is mostly round, sometimes flattened, with little crumb. Other times it is higher, with dimpled and moist crumb.

Its history is so ancient that is dated from before the Roman Empire, when the masters of Sicilian bread forged their own dough mixing their recipes to those of Greek and Arabic. In its long history its recipe has bound to several Sicilian traditions, becoming a typical bread of local festivities and celebrations.

Its unique feature, as the tradition of Sicilian cuisine, is the filling with ricotta, caciocavallo cheese and pork fat (lard), or with oil, pepper, anchovies and cheese. It's 'a classic bread of the winter holidays and every place has its muffoletta in Sicily: in Lercara Friddi it's eaten at the eve of the Immaculate Day, stuffed with ricotta cheese and melted pork fat in the pan. At Bagheria it's eaten each day in local restaurants.

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