Claudia Del Vecchio, Uta Gonsior and Gery Newman
50 years of the “Sagra delle pansarole”
(“Festival of the pansarole”)
The word “pansarola”
puzzles those who hear it outside the small corner called the
“zona intemelia” (which is the area inland of Ventimiglia). The
word intemelia derives from the name of the original inhabitants
of this extreme strip of Liguria, the Intemelii). Even a search
for “pansarola” on the web draws a blank, unless we count the
improbable “Doctor Pansa Rola”, an immunologist who practices in
a small city in Michigan.
But if you say
“pansarola” in Ventimiglia and the surrounding area, mouths
start to water as people begin to think about the delicious
dolce from Apricale, best served swimming in a sauce of
No-one know why we use
the word “pansa”. You find fried dolci called “bugie” (or
similar words in local dialects) in many parts of Italy, but the
pansarole from Apricale are different; you could say they
have a have a “pansa” (belly, or paunch), in the sense that they
are swollen and rounded.
The history of the
pansarole goes back a long way: British travellers were already
writing of “pansarole” at the beginning of the 20th Century. For
example, in his acclaimed book “The Riviera painted and
described” (London, 1907), William Scott mentions “pansarole”,
and also describes how to prepare it.
For the last fifty
years, the month of September has seen the “Sagra delle
pansarole” (“Festival of the Pansarole”), bringing crowds
flocking to the beautiful village of Apricale (which we know of
course, as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy!).
The visitors enjoy the
festival and savor the food, but this year, the 50th
year of the festival, they can also visit an exhibition of
photographs in the castle, dedicated to the origins of the feast
of the pansarole. The exhibition shows period films and original
artifacts from the first years of the festival. In addition,
there has also been a short course on how to prepare this
characteristic dolce from Apricale, with people taking
away the results of their toil to enjoy at home.
It seems that every
woman (and many men) from Apricale has her own secret recipe to
prepare the best pansarole. I’ll share with you an ancient
recipe belonging to Delfina Rossi, which was used at the first
Festival of the Pansarole, and which, you might even say, could
be the “Gold Standard of Pansarole”.
1 Kg of flour, 2 eggs,
100 gm of butter (or even better, of olive oil from Apricale),
yeast, a pinch of salt, and some grated lemon rind.
the ingredients well, cover with a cloth and let it rise. Roll
the dough, and cut it into small squares. Deep-fry the dough in
extra virgin olive oil, remove from the oil and dust with sugar
and perhaps add a little aniseed liquor. Then eat, with