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Panigacci | What's Hot in the Lunigiana

■ 30 May 2010 by James Martin

Panigacci, lunigianaPanigacci is a bread historically typical in just two towns, Podenzana and Aulla in the Lunigiana. But something’s up. People are making it everywhere in Tuscany and Liguria.

I encountered it yesterday twice—at the medieval festival in Aulla and at Sapori 2010 in Fivizzano. I encountered it again today at the Cantine Aperte at Lunae winery, which is technically in Liguria. You could buy Panigacci with salami, lardo, or nutella. I chose lardo, as any sane person would. It cost €1. All the wine from the winery I wanted to drink set me back €5, and the entry fee came with a buffet that included my favorite aged cheeses from Naturalmente Lunigiana. If you are a foodie who likes aged cheese and meat raised right and are in the Lunigiana and haven’t been to the store—shame on you. You’re missing the best of Tuscany.

In fact, the guy who runs Naturalmente Lunigiana recognized both Martha and I. That’s awful. What I mean is that he should have so many customers he shouldn’t be able to place us. But, ok, it was awfully nice that he knows and remembers us…

Panigacci, lungigianaAnyway, the pictures are from Aulla. Over there on the upper right the clickable picture shows you just how hot each testa has to get in order to cook the Panigacci quickly with that touch of crustiness on the outside.

And then there’s the making of it. Panigacci is a flat bread made by scooping some batter into the blazing hot terracotta dish (called a testa) and then stacking another testa on top loaded with more batter until you have a good-sized stack. Then you just start breaking up the stack because the bread is done almost instantly.

Fast food, Italian style. You put a dollop of soft cheese in it and fold it over and you’ve got lunch. Great and gooey. You can put meat in there, or even some pesto.

That’s it. Italian food is so darn simple, isn’t it? Two steps and you’ve got a sandwich you can only dream about outside the Lunigiana. Or Tuscany. Well, maybe outside a bit of Liguria, too.

Panigacci | What's Hot in the Lunigiana originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com May 30, 2010, © James Martin.

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