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Alessi cuisine



The "santina". Roasted bread, turnip leaves, herring and new oil.

(La "santina". Pane arrostito, foglie di rapa, aringa e olio che cola dalla pressa del frantoio)

  • A)
  • a bunch of very fresh and green turnip leaves, without their hard ribs
  • abundant new olive oil, because it is aromatic, aggressive and burning of thousands and thousands of wild flavours; 8 slices of Tuscany stale bread
  • one salted herring
  • salt and pepper
  • B)
  • a mixture composed of: 300 grs of boiled beans (the so called "cannellini")
  • a big spoon of their cooking broth
  • 3-4 garlic cloves and the leaves of 2-3 locks of sage, which have been previously used to flavour the beans during their cooking
  • 7-8 spoons of olive oil
  • a pinch of salt and abundant pepper
Take a pot and pour one litre and a half of water, a bit salted, and let it boil, then put the turnip leaves, cut in big pieces, and cook over a medium heat, for about 18-20 minutes or, alternatively, until they are tender but not undone. As soon as they are cooked, switch off the heat and leave the turnips in their hot water. On a grill, over a brisky heat, cook the herring, 5 minutes for each side, then take it out from the heat, remove its bones, put the fillets and the "latti" (or the eggs) in a dish seasoned with oil and pepper (the fillets of herring to be warm). Clean very well the grill from the remainig parts of the herring, then put it once again over a brisky heat and roast the slices of bread; if you want to have these slices very crunchy you have to roast them 2-3 minutes each side, turning them two times. During this time mix all the ingredients indicated at point B), pour this mixture in a small saucepan and put it over a very low heat, in order to keep it warm. As soon as the slices of bread are roasted, take them out from the grill, dip them very quickly, but entirely, into the very hot turnip water and position them on the plates. Cover them with the beans mixture and over this mixture put abundant turnip leaves. Finally, over each slice of bread, position some pieces of roasted herring and abundant olive oil together with abundant grinded pepper. This recipe should be eaten very hot like a first or a second course, adjusting, of course, the amounts.
This is a typical "crusher" recipe, which was normally prepared in the crusher hearths (turnips in the hanged copper pot, bread and herring on the grill) during the long waitings for the turn to crush the olives. In fact the main characteristic of this recipe is represented by the very new oil. Probably the name of "Santina" is due to the new oil, ironically, because it is fizzy, bitter, aggressive, insolent, desecrating, especially for palates educated to the "eunuch" tastes of the so called refined preparations, of the "gourmet", slaves of false "rituals" of blasphemous feasts, deprived of intense and wild tastes, always ready to censure excesses and disharmonies. Ironically because the "oil is the poor symbol of the devoted seriousness" as mentioned by Bachtin (Bachtin, 1979), as in the popular culture the oil "is the symbol of the official over-devout seriousness" and it is compared with wine, which "releases from fear and compassion".
But what kind of oil Bachtin is referred to in the analysis of the popular culture and its symbols in relation to the masterpiece of Rabelais? Certainly not to Tuscany oil! "Santina" keeps thousands of cheeky flavours, with a prickly and penetrating scent insinuating morbid passions, the need of possess, the need to bite the desired object, which is ready to donates itself: well, "Santina" is a sarcastic Tuscany irony, a country where the bigot people are not well considered, as confirmed by Malaparte.

A Giuseppe Alessi recipe
Translated by Gianna Toni
Picture by Sandro Santioli

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