Stracciatella (Italian pronunciation: [strattʃaˈtɛlla]; in Italian, a diminutive of straccia ("rag" or "shred") meaning "a little shred"; plural, stracciatelle) is a term used for different types of Italian food. Stracciatella alla romana is an egg drop soup which is popular around Rome in the Lazio region of central Italy. A similar soup, called zanzarelli, was described by Martino da Como in his 15th century manual, The Art of Cooking. Other variants exist. The soup provided the inspiration behind the stracciatella variety of gelato—a well-known milk-based ice cream infused with fine chocolate flakes that was originally created in Bergamo in northern Italy in 1962.
Stracciatella is also a variety of soft stretched-curd cheese invented in Apulia (the Puglia region in south-eastern Italy) that is made using a shredding technique. Stracciatella cheese is also used to make burrata, a buttery cheese enclosed in a bag of mozzarella.
Stracciatella is the name of an Italian egg drop soup which is popular around Rome, where it invariably used to be served at the start of Easter lunches. Stracciatella alla romana is traditionally prepared by beating eggs and mixing in grated parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg, lemon zest, and sometimes semolina; this mixture is then gently drizzled into boiling meat broth, while stirring so as to produce little shreds ("stracciatelle") of cooked egg in the soup. The resulting soup can be served in bowls containing a few thin slices of toasted bread, with additional parmesan grated on top.
According to Ada Boni, stracciatella alla romana used also to be scented with marjoram. Other traditional Italian and Italian-American recipes suggest garnishing with chopped parsley. Some American variations of the soup incorporate spinach as a main ingredient.
A fragrant egg-drop soup similar to the modern-day stracciatella was recorded as early as the 15th century by Martino da Como in his Libro de Arte Coquinaria (The Art of Cooking) under the name of zanzarelli.[n 1] The traditional preparation of stracciatella is also rather similar to that of sciusceddu, a rich festive soup from Messina in Sicily that may be a cousin of the Roman dish.[n 2]
Stracciatella is also a variety of milk-based gelato that is filled with fine, irregular chips of chocolate. This gelato is somewhat analogous to American chocolate chip ice cream, but the chocolate in stracciatella should turn out to be less chunky and more evenly distributed to produce a smooth, delicately crunchy texture. The effect is produced by drizzling melted chocolate into the ice cream towards the end of the churning process. Stracciatella gelato can be flavoured with vanilla.
Called "stracciatella" after the soup, the flavour was created in 1962 by Enrico Panattoni, the owner of La Marianna, a gelateria in Bergamo in northern Italy.[n 3] According to Panattoni, the idea came to him after he had grown tired of stirring eggs into broth to satisfy customers of his restaurant who kept asking for stracciatella soup.
Stracciatella is also a kind of soft cheese originally made in Apulia (the Puglia region of south-eastern Italy) from Italian buffalo or cow's milk using a stretching (pasta filata) and shredding technique. When mixed with thick cream stracciatella is also used to make burrata (Italian for "buttered"): this rich, buttery textured cheese which comes enclosed in a bag of mozzarella is thought to have been originally created in the early 20th century in Andria on the Murgia plateau, and is now also made outside Italy (e.g. in the United States). Since neither stracciatella nor burrata keeps well even when refrigerated, these cheeses need to be consumed promptly, while they are still soft and fresh.
Notes and references
- Martino worked in Rome for some time for Cardinal Ludovico Trevisan, a purveyor of lavish banquets. As translated by Jeremy Parzen, Martino's recipe for zanzarelli reads: "To make ten servings: take eight eggs and a half libra of grated cheese, and a grated loaf of bread and mix together. Then take a pot of meat broth made yellow with saffron and place over heat; and when it begins to boil, pour the mixture into a pot and stir with a spoon. When the dish has begun to thicken, remove from heat and serve in bowls, topped with spices." A "green" variant of the soup omits the saffron.
- Another egg-drop soup dish traditionally served at Easter, sciusceddu (also known as sciuscellu or ciuscello) is prepared by dropping a mixture of beaten eggs and sieved ricotta cheese into broth containing small meatballs made with minced veal, caciocavallo cheese, breadcrumbs and parsley.
- The youngest member of a family of peasant farmers from Altopascio di Lucca in Tuscany, Enrico Panattoni (1927–2013) came to Bergamo in 1946 where, after initially managing to set up a bar selling castagnaccio (a simple chestnut flour cake), he opened La Marianna, which became renowned for its gelato, including stracciatella, as well as its upper-storey Tuscan restaurant, then a novelty in Bergamo. In 1973, Panattoni's son Mirko was kidnapped and later released by an unknown criminal group—the first of a series of children held to ransom in Italy in recent decades.
- Facaros, Dana; Pauls, Michael (2003). Central Italy. London: Cadogan Guides. p. 60. ISBN 978-1-86011-112-9.
- Boni, Ada (1985). "Stracciatella alla romana". In Giaquinto, Maria Matilde. La cucina regionale. Rome: Newton Compton. p. 92.
- "Stracciatella". La cucina del Bel Paese. Touring Club Italiano, Accademia Italiana Della Cucina (in Italian). Touring Editore. 2003. p. 179. ISBN 978-88-365-2957-5. In English: La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy. Rizzoli Publications. 2009. p. 180. ISBN 978-0-8478-3147-0.
- Spagni, Silvia (2010). "Stracciatella". L'arte di cucinare alla romana (in Italian). Newton Compton Editori. pp. 115–116. ISBN 978-88-541-2879-8.
- Melfi, Rick (2011). "Stracciatella". The Food Pusher's Cookbook: Recollections and Recipes of an Italian American Tradition. Xlibris Corporation. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-4567-6950-5.
- Costikyan, Barbara (11 February 1980). "Beautiful Soup". New York Magazine. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
- Lehrer, Silvia. "Ragged Egg and Spinach Soup". From Savoring the Hamptons: Discovering the Food and Wine of Long Island's East End by Silvia Lehrer (Running Press Book Publishers, 2011). SplendidTable.org. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
- Ballerini, Luigi; Barzini, Stefania; Parzen Jeremy, ed. (2005). "Zanzarelli". The Art of Cooking: The First Modern Cookery Book. University of California Press. pp. 64, 151. ISBN 978-0-520-92831-2.
- Coria, Giuseppe (2008). Sicily: Culinary Crossroads. New York, New York: Oronzo Editions. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-9797369-3-3.
- "Sciusceddu". La cucina del Bel Paese. Touring Club Italiano, Accademia Italiana Della Cucina (in Italian). Touring Editore. 2003. p. 176. ISBN 978-88-365-2957-5. In English: La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy. Rizzoli Publications. 2009. p. 178. ISBN 978-0-8478-3147-0.
- Ferrari, Luciano (2005). "Straciatella Gelato". Gelato and Gourmet Frozen Desserts - A professional learning guide. Lulu.com. p. 61. ISBN 978-1-4092-8850-3.
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- Ottogalli, Giorgio (2001). Atlante dei formaggi: guida a oltre 600 formaggi e latticini provenienti da tutto il mondo (in Italian). Milan: Hoepli Editore. p. 211. ISBN 978-88-203-2822-1.
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- Burrata: Puglia's Molten Mozzarella (Documentary). Hyde Park, New York: The Culinary Institute of America. 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- Testa, Rita (1984). "Burrata". Gastronomia e società (in Italian). Istituto nazionale di sociologia rurale. Milan: Franco Angeli. pp. 557–558.