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Fava beans (here fresh and in the pod, rather than dried) are a primary ingredient of maccu.
Fresh fava beans, shelled and steamed

Maccu (also known as maccu di fave[1] and sometimes referred to as macco[2]) is a Sicilian soup and also a foodstuff that is prepared with dried and crushed fava beans (also known as broad beans) and fennel as primary ingredients.[3][4] Several dishes exist using maccu as a foodstuff, such as Bruschetta al maccú and Maccu di San Giuseppe, the latter of which may be served on Saint Joseph's Day in Sicily.


Maccu is a peasant food[1] and staple food that dates back to ancient history.[3][5][6] The Roman people may have invented or introduced the foodstuff, which was created from crushed fava beans.[6] Although maccu's availability in contemporary times in Sicily is generally rare,[6] it is still occasionally served in restaurants there.[3]

Ingredients and preparation[edit]

Primary ingredients include fava beans, fennel seeds and sprigs, olive oil, salt and pepper.[3] Additional ingredients may include tomato, onion and pasta.[3] The soup is sometimes cooled until it solidifies, then cut into strips, breaded in flour and fried in olive oil.[3] Some preparations of maccu may use fava beans that have been puréed.[7]

Dishes that use maccu[edit]

Pasta cco Maccu, a typical Sicilian dish

Bruschetta al maccú is a simple dish prepared with bruschetta and maccu that may be served as an appetizer or lunch dish.[5]

Maccu di San Giuseppe (English: maccu of St. Joseph) is a traditional Sicilian dish that consists of various ingredients and maccu.[8] The dish may be prepared on Saint Joseph's Day in Sicily, to clear out pantries and allow room for the spring's new crops of vegetables.[8] In Sicily, St. Joseph is regarded by many as their patron saint, and in many Italian-American communities, thanks are given to St. Joseph ("San Giuseppe" in Italian) for preventing a famine in Sicily during the Middle Ages. According to legend, there was a severe drought at the time, and the people prayed for their patron saint to bring them rain. They promised that if he answered their prayers, they would prepare a large feast to honor him. The rain did come, and the people of Sicily prepared a large banquet for their patron saint. The fava bean was the crop which saved the population from starvation and is a traditional part of St. Joseph's Day altars and traditions. Giving food to the needy is a St. Joseph's Day custom.

Rigatoncini con maccu di fave is a Sicilian dish prepared with rigatoncini pasta (a smaller version of rigatoni) and fava bean paste.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Riley, Gillian (2007). The Oxford Companion to Italian Food. Oxford University Press. p. 501. ISBN 978-0198606178.
  2. ^ Sinclair, Charles Gordon (1998). International Dictionary of Food and Cooking. Taylor & Francis. p. 329. ISBN 1579580572.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Helstosky, Carol (2009). Food Culture in the Mediterranean. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 7. ISBN 978-0313346262.
  4. ^ Facaros, Dana; Pauls, Michael (2008). Sicily. New Holland Publishers. p. 53. ISBN 978-1860113970.
  5. ^ a b La Place, Viana; Kleiman, Evan (2011). Cucina Rustica. Harper Collins. pp. 44–45. ISBN 978-0060935115.
  6. ^ a b c Simeti, Mary Taylor (1989). Pomp and sustenance: twenty-five centuries of Sicilian food. Knopf. pp. 9–10. ISBN 9780394568508.
  7. ^ Touring Club of Italy; Touring Club Italiano (2002). The Italian Food Guide. Touring Editore. p. 581. ISBN 8836525385.
  8. ^ a b Clarkson, Janet (2013). Food History Almanac. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 262. ISBN 978-1442227156.
  9. ^ DiDio, Tony; Zavatto, Amy (2003). The Renaissance Guide to Wine and Food Pairing. Penguin. p. 218. ISBN 1440650985.