dinner is ready
The culinary tradition of Massa and Carrara
derives from the age-old popular customs and it is connected to
the products of the land and to the agricultural activity of these
Besides using the produce of the land and of stock-raising, the
inhabitants of the Apuan territory learnt to feed on see-food: molluscs,
mussels, limpets, sea-urchins, anchovies and little fried fishes.
Owing to the closeness of the two towns, their cuisine is very similar,
it changes only in some details concerning preparation and flavouring.
Carrara is famous for the ,bacon
fat of Colonnata, white and delicious, with a unique taste
coming from the poorest part of the pig, which is situated under
the skin and is called pigskin. Its origin are very ancient. Colonnata
was a small village, where quarrymen and shepherds lived. They also
bred swine, precious for their meat and for the sausages obtained
from them. We don't know how it happened that the inhabitants of
corned and closed the bacon fat in marble basins, perhaps to preserve
it for a longer period. Lacking the olive oil the bacon fat was
used even to brown onions or to flavour vegetable soups. It was
also used by the quarrymen to overcome the intense cold of the winter
stuffing themselves with calories and energies: they melted a piece
of bacon-fat on the fire and drank it before going to work. Many
persons wanted to imitate and produce the bacon fat, but no one
has reached that of Colonnata. It is excellent with small tomatoes
salt and olive oil or simply with bred.
Among the specialities we can find "ravioli" or "tordelli",
which are filled with meat, but the main course is the "taglierini"
with beans, for which home-made pasta is necessary.
A common dish is "polenta", seasoned with oil or with
mushrooms, meat or fish, such as "polenta with stockfish".
To prepare it, one needs stockfish, onion, tomato-sauce, parsley,
rosemary, oil and a little white wine (to prepare polenta: maize
flour, water, salt).
First of all soften and wash the stockfish, brown the minced onion,
rosemary and parsley and put the stockfish in the same casserole.
Then heat and sprinkle with white wine. When the stockfish is well
browned, add the tomato-sauce and salt and let it cook for one hour.
To prepare the polenta, boil the water, add the salt and the meal
slowly stirring continuously. When cooked put it in a dish and let
it rest. Then cut it into slices (once the polenta was cut with
a double cotton thread) and serve it with the stockfish.
Once the tasty and savoury pickled cod was a snack and it was served
even in the wineshops, because it matched well with a glass wine.
To prepare it one needs softened cod, oil, garlic, vinegar, tomato-sauce,
rosemary, chilly, water and meal. Cut the cod into square pieces
and flour it before frying in olive oil. When it is browned, strain
it in a blotting paper. Prepare a dressing made of garlic, rosemary
and chilly, brown it in abundant oil and add the tomato-sauce. Then
add a glass vinegar, a little water and let it thicken. Put the
fried cod in a salad-bowl, pour the dressing on it and let it rest
for some hours.
The "erbi" (herbs) have always been picked in the fields
and along the hillocks: they are boiled and served with green beans.
Wash the herbs, which grow spontaneously in the fields, and boil
them in salt water. Boil separately the green beans. When they are
cooked, strain them, put them in a salad-bowl and dress with olive
It is a custom in Carrara, such as in the whole Tuscany, to prepare
the "Castagnaccio" ( chestnut cake) with the chestnut
flour. Mix the flour, water, milk, a pinch of salt, sugar, pine
kernels and softened raisins. Pour the mixture in a baking-pan,
dress with oil, add the rosemary and bake it.
With the sweet flour, it is also possible to prepare chestnut pancakes.
After sifting the flour through a sieve, mix it with water and a
pinch of salt, fry the pancakes in hot oil and strain it in a blotting
paper. Generally they are served with "ricotta" cheese.
The main cake is the rice cake, which was once prepared during the
party for the patron of the town: S. Ceccardo. Fresh milk, 10 or
12 eggs, sugar, rice, lemon-curd, and (if you like it) liqueurs
as anise or alkermes are necessary to prepare this cake. Boil the
rice and let it became cold, then beat the eggs with sugar in a
large pot with a fork, Add the grated lemon-curd, the liqueur, the
rice, the boiled cold milk and stir them. Spread a baking-pan with
butter, put the mixture inside and bake it for 1 hour.
When cooked the cake should have a brown-golden colour. The rice
cake is very good and is contended with Massa for its origin.
All this tasty dishes, which are made with simple ingredients, can
be enjoyed in the restaurants of the town, whereas fish is very
appreciated along the coast.