The History and recipe of zùzzu, the typical Sicilian pork jelly

Present both in the festive home tables and in the butcher shops of Sicily (the so-called chiànchi), this dish is widespread also in some areas of Campania and Calabria, which were once part of the Kingdom of Naples. Its diffusion testifies to the reliability of the ancient saying “du majàli un si jetta nenti”, that is “everything but the oink”

The Advent season is coming and, as every year, the province of Catania in particular, and Sicily in general, is ready to taste a typical dish of the local traditional gastronomy: the so-called zùzzu, or pork jelly. Present both in the festive home tables and in the butcher shops of Sicily (the so-called chiànchi), this dish is widespread also in some areas of Campania and Calabria, which were once part of the Kingdom of Naples. Its diffusion testifies to the reliability of the ancient saying “du majàli un si jetta nenti”, that is “everything but the oink”.

In fact, given its fat and nourishing consistency, the animal was bred in anticipation of the coldest months of the year and then prepared according to the most disparate recipes. According to an old rule, for the zùzzu one should use mostly parts like ears, tongue, rind, paws, tail and head, to be boiled together for at least a couple of hours in a pot of water where to put also some bay leaves and a good quantity of salt. After that, the meat is boned, and the broth kept on the fire for another half an hour with the addition of some vinegar or lemon juice. Finally, the broth is poured over the meat and seasoned with cloves, pepper or other aromas to then be left to rest a night in the fridge.

The result is a “poor” but tasty delicacy, which for centuries has been delighting Christmas islanders. It is not by chance that the zùzzu has been included in the list of traditional Italian food products of the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, better known in Italy as PAT. Depending on the area in which it is prepared, the zùzzu is also called sùzu or even liatìna, a variant closer to the corresponding gelatine. The etymology of this Sicilian noun, anyway, is to be found in the Italian adjective zozzo, which according to some people would be understood here as a synonym of greasy, rich and tasty.

According to others, in line with the Latin term sŭcĭdus from which it comes, and which literally means with the hands smeared with blood, the word would rather indicate the preparation of the dish. In fact, when the pig is killed to be then eaten, you are obliged to get your hands dirty with its blood. Whatever the truth, the flavour and the delicacy of the dish make everybody agree at least on the immortal appreciation of this gelatine in the whole region.

Translated by Eva Luna Mascolino

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