The thousand variants of the “cùddura”

When people think of Sicilian traditions, they often perceive them as quite uniform. Yet, each celebration, as well as each folkloric habit, has different characteristics in the province of Palermo or Ragusa, of Enna or of Caltanissetta.

A striking example of Sicilian versatility is given by the dialectal term cùddura, which indicates a type of donut widespread in general in the South of Italy and whose etymology comes from the Greek κολλύρα (pron. kollýra, i.e. loaf). Surprising as it may seem, it has distinct meanings according to the province where it is eaten.

In Catania, for example, the cùddura cu l’ova (or pani cu ‘l’ovu) is a dessert, prepared by placing a hard-boiled egg cooked in the centre of a loaf of bread, usually eaten during Easter. If we move in the province of Agrigento, however, the cuddurèddu becomes a small bread ring that is mostly prepared for the feast of the patron, St. Blaise, celebrated on February 3rd.

In the province of Syracuse, instead, the village of Palazzolo Acreide associates ‘a cùddura to its own Saint, St. Paul the Apostle, and transforms it into a large donut of durum wheat which is sold and consumed mostly on June 29. Near Caltanissetta, in Delia, there are also those who associate it with the Carnival period, where it is no coincidence that the cuddirèddra maintains its typical crown shape, although this time it is a fried dessert.

Its sweet taste is also typical of Caltagirone (Catania), where the cuddurèddu is cooked, however, in December and is stuffed with dried figs and almonds. In the Syracusan towns of Lentini, Carlentini and Melilli, as well as in Ciminna and Lercara Friddi (Palermo), the cuddurùni at Christmas is instead a savoury focaccia that can be stuffed with anchovies, broccoli, onions, potatoes, sausage or other seasonings, while in Ferla (Siracusa) it is fried and sprinkled with a handful of sugar.

Therefore, pay attention to what you order – and, above all, where! A loaf or bread or donut will certainly be served you by anyone, even if on its taste and ingredients we do not guarantee any uniformity around Sicily.

Translated by Eva Luna Mascolino

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