The recycling cusine, also called “of reuse”, represents the ancient popular tradition of poor cuisine. Typical of peasants and those subordinates, it was characterized by the creation of recipes based on simple ingredients, genuine and seasonal. Most of the products used belonged to the home vegetable garden. Together with other ingredients and spices, these products were able to transform even the simplest of dishes into a concentrate of absolute goodness. An example are all the recipes that, by now, are considered cornerstones of the Sicilian food and wine tradition.
The bread in the recycling cusine
One hand this type of cuisine relied exclusively on seasonal fresh products, on the other hand there was an omnipresent element: bread. It represents the most evident testimony of the recycling cusine and the origin of its use is twofold. In fact, peasants and the less well-off social classes often ate bread, but it was also customary, at the gentlemen’s table, to distribute the leftovers among the poor or the servants.
In any case, once left over, the bread could be reused in the form of many variations. All you had to do was enrich it or stuff it and the new dish was ready! In fact, the leftovers were considered an infinite richness, which could be re-proposed at any time of need.
A very curious example about the use of bread in the Sicilian cusine involves the monks. They used to keep in a jar the breadcrumbs which, at the end of the meals, remained on the table. Then, after a profitable harvest, the crumbs were used for the preparation of cakes, with eggs and flour.
The copper cauldron: the protagonist of a lifestyle
Another particularly significant element of the recycling cusine was the classic copper cauldron. It was a huge pot and it was in every home. Inside, people used to cook anything: soups and grits that, together with bread, were the dishes of everyday life. For a long time the cauldron has been the reference object of the recycling cusine, the protagonist of a familiarity given by the silent and caring work of loving women.
Therefore, the art of recycling cusine is an expression of a lifestyle that, far from demanding rich banquets, was able to manage and feed itself with little. The farmers used only and exclusively the available resources of the house and the vegetable garden, including the leftovers of the previous days. For this reason, preparation required a lot of imagination. And it is precisely from creativity, inventiveness and, above all, the practicality of peasant minds that were born the famous recipes that we are lucky to savor today. These are popular recipes, less well-finished in appearance but extremely tasty. They are simple dishes, born from more disparate necessity, like save money or reuse leftovers. This is how exceptional dishes are still recognized today among the best dishes of Sicilian cuisine
Today’s recipes of the recycling cusine
The dishes of popular cuisine have become part of the tradition and folklore of the island. They constitute recipes like spaghetti alla carrettiera, whose only ingredients are pasta, dry bread, garlic, oil and salt. The origin of this dish dates back to the early twentieth century and it is thanks to the carters that it spreads throughout the island. In fact, the carters, i.e. those who were involved in the transport of goods or people, belonged to one of the categories of workers most in need. For this reason, they used to eat simply. Therefore, it is thanks to the carters that, over the years, pasta with garlic, oil and dry bread has become one of the typical recipes of Sicilian taverns.
And, again, pasta with salted anchovies (c’anciova in Sicilian dialect) is the alternative of the classic pasta with sardines. The origin of this recipe is very curious and dates back to the time of the Sicilian migrants who, leaving their beloved land to seek fortune in Northern Italy, brought with them the typical products of the island. These were prepared in the form of preserves and then cooked to rediscover the traditional home flavours. To bring a bit of Sicily with them always.