Have access to the internet and you will find out all the mysteries of the local traditions you live admist. Especially the history behind the Abruzzese uccelletti (li cillitte de Sand’Andonie), a birdie shaped stuffed pastry that my mobile baker had as his weekend sweetie offering to celebrate San Antonio on Day 5 #ohdaddyoh .
Neither our lovely baker nor anyone in the village could explain how these little birdies came about. Like so many traditions we indulge in we haven’t a clue in its history but revel in its associated gorgeous sweetmeats. In my over active imagination that couldn’t quite equate birdies with a Saint whose main pre-occupation is domesticated animals I had a field day. Did it come via a former Italic tribe in Abruzzo performing bird sacrifices in the month when the Romans prayed against the birds stealing their seed. Then another brainwave, could it rather be a celebration of the birds beginning their annual migration back to cooler shores from Africa, birds do good as pollinators and pest control after all. We’ll leave for another discussion Italy’s elephant in the room of those said birdies being hunted and eaten in still many parts of the country today.
A Portable Bird In the Hand
The truth was much much simpler. The birds were created as a reward for the itinerant travelling musicians, actors and beggars (i Sandandonijre) who performed The Passions of St Anthony Abate. The pastries providing much needed calories and an easy to manage holy spirit for a group of people who probably weren’t regarded as your most wholesome.
One day I hope to sample the ‘real thing’ much like a jam tart which I have yet to understand the joy of eating. A enjoyed playing with them rather than the taste, today’s, like the ones I’ve previously tasted were more grape jam than the stuffing of the pukka version: grape jam boiled off with a combination of cocoa, rum, cinnamon, shredded tangerine zest, roasted almonds and dark chocolate.