This ancient speciality has survived in the heart of Sicily in Castelvetrano, in the province of Trapani. Black bread seemed destined to remain a tradition of bygone bakers but luckily somebody managed to save it and continues to bake it today.
It could be called housewifes bread, for its special taste and long-lasting softness, which has been passed on from the knowing hands of our grandmothers to those of the bakers. The traditional black bread has had a tough journey to manage to survive, fighting unfair competition and too much red tape. However its last hope was the Slow Food Association, which did everything possible to obtain all the authorisations to continue making the bread in the traditional manner.
Bakers, the Slow Food Association, the Councillor for Cooperation, Commerce, Handicrafts and Fishing in the Region of Sicily and the Municipality of Castelvetrano are working together to increase the cultivation of tumminia wheat, and restore some life to the numerous local mills which are drastically underused.
The black bread shapes that come out of the oven are "vastedde" and "cuddure", reminders of times gone by when the housewives baked the bread once a week or once a fortnight. The vastedda was always round and weighed about 1 kilo, then there were the cuddure which weighed about half a kilo and the "cudduredde" of about 150-200 grams. Once a year, with the freshly ground flour from the fresh wheat the cuddure a pedi di voi (ox feet) were baked in tribute to that wonderful beast that helped plough the soil.
Did you know?
The black bread loaves are so big because once upon a time they did not make the bread every day and it had to last for a long time, up to two or three weeks. It is made from two types of flour (blond (hard and whole) and that from an antique variety of local wheat tumminia, and in fact it is the rare "tumminia" that makes Castelvetrano bread black and amazingly sweet and tasty, with an intense perfume and unusual toasted aroma.