At home with the Langobards

It’s Christmas time, but there is no Christmas without the attorta at home

The typical cake by the characteristic rolled shape (hence the name attorta), made with apples and dried fruit, whose origin is traced back to the Lombards, the people who made Spoleto the capital of the duchy by the same name. After coming into contact with the population of the Italian peninsula and the territories of the Byzantine empire, the Lombards inherited from the Latins a simplified form of the secunda mensa, a sweet dish that ended the most important meal of the day.

They mainly used fresh fruit picked from the trees, apples, quinces, pears, cherries, peaches, figs, sorbs, medlars, fresh or cooked and seasoned with honey. Dried fruit such as walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds and chestnuts were also a regular feature of the table, as they provided important nutrition even for the poorest diets of the lower classes.

The attorta shares its basic ingredients with the gubana, another cake typical of Cividale del Friuli, the city that was the capital of the first Lombard duchy in Italy. Various legends trace the gubana (from “guba”, which in the Slavic language means “fold” due to its folded shape) back to the Goths.

The preparation of both cakes starts with the ingredients placed on a base of dough (thin in the attorta, 2-3 cm high and well risen in the gubana). The base is then rolled up and, in the attorta, twisted into the shape of a spiral, while in the gubana, it is folded so that it also develops in height.

Won’t you try? Here are two recipes from the didactic food book published by the Associazione Italia Langobardorum: “Alla tavola di Re Rotari. Tradizioni alimentari e culinarie nell’Italia dei Longobardi”, Spoleto 2018.

Happy Monday with the Longobards and Merry Christmas.

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