An itinerary which let us know and
enjoy the traditions of the Hyblaean province
may start from what has been for centuries and is still nowadays
the central point of the local economy "the typical ragusan
farm", called masseria.
The territory of Ragusa is rich of
this kind of family run farms which are places where local traditions
are handed on from father to son. Production and home life took
place at the same time. In the evening the family sat around a brazier
the so called "conca" and grand fathers would tell
grandsons nice stories "cunta". At dinner there
was poor but wholesome food such as causunieddi: home made
pasta seasoned with pork sauce or tomato, ravioli: home made
pasta stuffed with ricotta, sugar and cinnamon, and manichi ri
fauci which literally means sickle handle owing to the particular
form given to pasta, cooked with pulses and seasoned with oil and
salt. Then we must mention the so called maccu: a typical
broad bean soup.
Life was simple but very hard. Men
would pass the whole day working in the fields while women in addition
to their domestic job, would help their husbands with the farm,
take care of the poultry, milk cows and sheep, weave, make bread
and take care of the children.
stone oven is present in any ragusan farm still today and if you
happen to find one of these ancient farms do not miss the occasion
to eat focacce: layers of home made pasta stuffed with
tomato and cheese, with ricotta onion and parsley, with aubergines,
with broccoli, with ricotta and sausage.
At Easter the tradition suggests
to eat " 'mpanate " a sort of buns stuffed with
lamb meat, kid meat, and turkey meat seasoned with pepper and parsley.
The typical sweat of this period is the cassata one layer
of pasta filled with ricotta and baked.
Open air life took place in the bagghiu
: a courtyard enclosed by drystone walls, farmers' houses,
and cattlesheds. This area was country-style paved ancuticciatu
, and served as playing courtyard for children, as passage for
the animals and meeting place. Inside the house, the family used
to spend their life in a big room called "casa ri mannira"
, where ricotta and provola and caciocavallo, the typical ragusan
cheese was manufactured . In the tannura, a stone-cooker
the women prepared the meals and made the bread in the stone-oven.
The preparation of ricotta
was almost a ritual, two times a day after milking, early
in the morning and late in the evening. The remaining liquid after
the manufacture of the cheese, called llacciata was put in
a big tinned copper cauldron, at a certain temperature a further
curd called ricotta is obtained; the remaining whey was used to
feed the pigs. Fresh ricotta was put in little pointed cane-made
containers cavagne and sold.
At Christmas after the traditional
pig slaughter, the family prepared the sausage, the most common
specialities of the Christmas period are pork chops, roast sausages
and pork in aspic. Part of the sausage, hanging from a cane was
dried and smoked with the smoke coming from the ricotta making.
Typical sweets of this period are
mpagnuccata, pasta little balls cooked with honey and served
on a lemon leaf, or the mucatoli, made with honey and walnut
and the ghiugghiulena with honey and almonds.