This word commonly indicates a round loaf with no hole in the middle, which is sold mainly in Palermo and in the provinces of Catania and Syracuse. In other areas of Sicily, however, the term indicates something quite different
Like other Italian regions, Sicily is known throughout the world for the quality of its bread. Made at home or bought in artisanal bakeries, in fact, this food stands out for the quantity and quality of its flours, for its different shapes and for the curious names that each of its variants has. Today we will talk more in the detail about the vastedda, a round loaf with no hole in the middle that weighs from 500 grams to a kilo and a half, and that is sold above all in Palermo and in the provinces of Catania and Syracuse.
With some differences, actually, a bread with the same name can also be found in the town of Ramacca, in the province of Catania, where it is sold in the form of a loaf or donut (called cucciddatu). In a similar way, in the province of Enna and precisely in Piazza Armerina you can find the vastidduni, larger in size and recognizable due to a more consistent crumb and a less thin crust. And that’s not all: in the province of Palermo and in the Valle del Belice, the vastedda becomes a cheese! It is a D.P.O. product which took inspiration from the bread to name a food in turn round.
Faced with such numerous versions of this product, what is surprising is that its etymology is still so uncertain. According to the most reliable hypotheses, it comes from the Norman wastel, which later became guastel and turned into the ancient French gastl. The term indicated a sort of focaccia with ricotta and could therefore be the forerunner of this more recent kind of bread. Nevertheless, according to others the vastedda comes from the Sicilian adjective vast, which can be translated as rotten. It referred to badly fermented pasta during the summer heat and therefore has a weaker logical and semantic connection with the food we were talking about.
Whatever the truth, we all agree on one thing: whether it is a loaf of bread or a cheese, the vastedda remains an irresistible specialty of Sicilian cuisine.
Translated by Eva Luna Mascolino