Traditional Italian food in Italy: the Sfratto dei Goym, or Sfratto di Pitigliano as it is also known, is an authentic Italian dessert that tells the tale of a Jewish ghetto in Maremma.
Maremma is a land of legend, history and tradition where fascinating stories lie behind nearly everything: you just need to listen...
And the wonderfully sweet pastry made in the tufo towns of Pitigliano and Sovana called "Sfratto" is no exception.
Its tale tells of nothing less than the persecution of Jewish people by the Grand Duke of Tuscany and the Popes in the sixteenth century.
The border between Tuscany and Lazio is only five kilometres south of Pitigliano and once was also the border of the Papal States. In the middle of the sixteenth century Count Nicolas Orsini of Pitigliano employed a Jewish doctor, Doctor David Depomis, and in the years that followed many of his artisan friends and family moved to join him in the town. At the same time, other Jewish families from the ghettos of Roma, Ancona, Firenze and Siena sought refuge in Pitigliano and other isolated borders towns from Papal persecution and that of the Granduca di Toscana, Cosimo II.
In the early seventeenth century, Cosimo II gave instructions for all of the Jewish families in the town and in nearby Sorano and Sovana to be forced into a small area of Pitigliano, between Via Zuccarelli and the southern walls of the city. This consequently became known as the ghetto in Pitigliano and is still referred to as such even today, athough no Jewish families remain. Those carrying out the eviction orders did so by banging on the doors of each of the homes with a baton.
A hundred years later, the sweet Sfratto was created by the Jewish people living in Pitigliano to record the event. The form of the sweet pastry takes that of the baton, and is filled with a delicious mixture of warmed honey with chopped walnuts, orange peel and nutmeg. The pastry casing - which is hard - is made from flour, sugar, white wine, and olive oil. It is a rich but an ever so moreish delicacy and disappeared like lightening as our dessert after dinner the night I brought one home from exploring Pitigliano and the extraordinary Vie Cave. Little fingers and larger ones faught over the last pieces!
Once possibly an Etruscan recipe (the combination of ingredients are those that have been used for centuries before by locals), the Sfratto dei Goym is now an STG - Specialità tradizionale garantita - STG - Maremma food and its production is overseen and protected by the "Presidi Slow Food" (Slow Food Presidia). www.presidislowfood.it
Stunning Pitigliano: not to be missed. Be warned! your first view as you round the bend at The Santuario della Madonna delle Grazie on the approach road from Manciano will take your breath away, so be prepared re the traffic coming around the bend the other way!
If you do get the opportunity to visit Pitigliano you can purchase Sfratti directly from Ars Alimentaria in Via Zuccarelli, or any one of the towns bakeries which they supply. Don't worry about whether it will survive your trip home as chances are you will devour it beforehand anyway, but in any event I can testify that it survives well in a rucksac!
It is also baked in the neighbouring volcanic tufa ridge town of Sovana: another great place to visit in Tuscany.
If you do eat all of yours long before you get home (it is that good!) then this link will take you to the recipe for you to make another - authentic Italian dessert recipes from Maremma. They would make a great Italian Christmas dessert and/or gift for friends and family back home: indeed, although enjoyed all year round, the majority are made and willingly consumed with a glass of Pitigliano white wine or the sweet Vin Santo during "Natale" (Christmas) in Maremma.
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