“… the groom’s family will take care of the sweet mouth of the diners who, at the end of the meal, will have to offer the pitta ‘mpigliata, prepared in advance, making sure that the pitta is of the right fineness.
These are exactly the words engraved on an ancient document dating back to 1728, a real notarial deed, in which the Giaquinta family, in granting their daughter Angelica in marriage to the landowner Battista Caligiuro, also specified this curious detail referring to the dessert of the wedding banquet.
This is the most eloquent written test we know about pitta ‘mpigliata, and it is for this reason that its origins are linked to the Sangiovannese tradition, although there are several other references, according to which this dessert would have had its first appearances very but a long time ago.
In ancient times, “pitta” was a well-known food. In ancient Egypt, for the birthday [from Lat. genethliăcus, gr. γενεϑλιακός, der. of γενέϑλιος “Christmas”] of the Pharaoh, a flattened focaccia was consumed topped with aromatic herbs. Herodotus handed down some Babylonian recipes to us. Archilochus of Paro, poet and soldier of the 7th century BC, informs us of his “kneaded focaccia” as the main food of the soldier. “Pitta”, in Greek, means focaccia, bread, plate.
Greece hands down flat breads and focaccias as a widespread and popular food throughout classical antiquity. The Greeks of classicism used “pitte” as dishes, also called “tables”, on which to place food at the table, but when hunger was so great they ate them too, as described by Virgil in the Aeneid in Book VII:
“Otherwise, by chance, there was nothing to eat. So, when the food was finished, he turned his teeth to those desks out of hunger, and then jeering: “Or – said Iulus – do we still devour the tables?”.
While the last of the Latin fathers Isidore of Seville, in his Etymologiae, argues that the term “focaccia” derives from the Latin focàcia, feminine of focàcius, with the meaning of “cooked at the hearth”.
Others argue that the “pitta” is a donut of bread, whose origins derive from the ritual decorated focaccia, picta that is painted, painted and offered to the divinities by the ancient Italic and Roman peoples.
There are certainly many theories about it and, at times, even conflicting with each other; it is not our intention to presumptuously appropriate the origins of a product in itself, but we simply want to enhance and consolidate the origins of a tradition, deeply linked to our land and to the community that has populated it for centuries.
No one can deny the existence and consumption of such a simple – and in some respects poor – dish even in remote times, but it is also true that no one can refute the historical, cultural and social value that gravitates around such a consolidated gastronomic tradition like that of the Sangiovannese pitta ‘mpigliata.
Dulcis in Fiore was born and exists mainly for this purpose: to protect and enhance not a product, not a simple dessert, but the identity of a centuries-old tradition.