August 28 & 29-
I love everything about L’Aquila’s celebration of the ancient la perdonanza, a two day window of opportunity to atone and renew. To read more about the history and evolution of this L’Aquilian ritual, visit blogAway’s website and my post “Wearing Celestine’s Window.”
While wandering the streets of centro L’Aquila a few months ago, I found Pasticceria Manieri Tullio on Via Garibaldi. The shop specializes in Dolce della Perdonanza, a kind of mincemeat in puff pastry. Fashioned in a medieval font called morpheus, a sign explains: Questa ricetta e nata della sapienza dei cuochi della corte angioina dell’ Aquila intorno alla fine del 1200, ossia all’ epoca in cui Papa Celestino V donava a L’Aquila la bolla del perdono ed era ospite del Re di Napoli nella reggia di S. Domenico. Viene riproposta nella sua interezza con solo qualche piccolo ritocco ad esempio l’uso assai misurato della cipolla soffritta per renderla piu gradita al gusto di oggi.
This tells us that the recipe for the dolce was created by the best cooks in L’Aquila at the behest of the King of Naples to honor the new pope, Celestine, and celebrate his papal edict for an annual pardon to be held in the Basilica Santa Maria di Collemaggio in L’Aquila. The recipe has changed very little since 1294. Fewer fried onions are used in the filling to suit modern taste buds.
Although I sampled the torte, I did not learn the recipe. A bit of research reveals that the key ingredients are apples, white onions (sautéed in olive oil) dried figs, blanched almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, sugar, eggs, and Abruzzo’s finest saffron dissolved in a little water and brushed atop the sweet puff pastry which envelops the chopped nuts and fruit.
I was intrigued to taste a medieval dessert, especially one created to celebrate Abruzzo’s hermit pope whom I have read so much about, but I felt a deeper satisfaction making the discovery in centro L’Aquila where these days it is a challenge to find the living past.