Immaculate Conception Bread

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Immaculate Conception Bread

The bread of the Immaculate Conception – in dialect u f’c’ latidd or also tartanidd – is the typical Matera doughnut bread. It weighs about half a kilo, in the most common form, with a diameter of about 50 cm. The outside colour is yellow-brown, while the inside remains mostly white. It is a savoury bread that is quite tasty, thanks mainly to the fennel seed, which also determines its strong spicy smell. The texture is soft and crumbly.
It is a product linked to the date of 8 December, the day on which the Immaculate Conception is celebrated in Catholic tradition. In fact, it is thought that this bread, different from the typical Matera bread made from durum wheat semolina, is kneaded with white flour
precisely to celebrate the whiteness of the Virgin Mary. Therefore, during the month of December, it was used daily as a substitute for traditional bread. It was also eaten alone, given the intense flavour of the fennel seeds (very common in the Murgia materana area). Obviously, as bread, it was also used to accompany other dishes.
Its typical doughnut shape is linked to Mediterranean culture in general, with references also to the Middle East, an area where bread was kept hung or ringed in poles or sticks. What characterises this product and binds it inextricably to the Matera area, however, is the presence of fennel seed, typical of the area and much used for its strong aroma and flavour. The processing techniques are those typical of bread. It is then given a circular shape, pierced in the centre, and cuts are made in the surface to facilitate and improve leavening. After the loaves have been left to rest and have risen properly, they are baked in the oven.
In the past, as today, the preparation of the bread of the Immaculate Conception, in place of the typical Matera bread, marked the beginning of the month of Christmas. Today, fortunately, this ritual has been maintained, moving, however, from the houses of Matera and the communal ovens where only the baking took place, to bakeries. In December, in fact, the bread of the Immaculate Conception is easily found in every corner of the city exclusively in its traditional version, since there is no industrial production of this product.
Its community value is truly immense and for this reason it is a product that deserves to be defended and protected.

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Nominated by:Emanuele Bruno