Pani Cunzatu: Bread of Shame

Sicilian cuisine is incredibly diverse, and “pani cunzatu” (also called “pane cunzato” in Italian) is a beautiful example of this. At first glance, it looks like a pizza, but it is more of a “garnished bread”.

It got its name “bread of shame” because it was consumed by the poorest inhabitants of Sicily, who could not afford better and more expensive food. Those slightly wealthier would liven up the bread with a piece of anchovy, and only over time did the recipe evolve into its current form.

The basis of pani cunzatu is freshly baked flatbread made from pizza dough. Various ingredients are then layered on top, such as anchovies, cheese, tomatoes, olives, and oregano. This simple combination is, however, perfectly balanced in taste. The freshly baked bread is crispy, the cherry tomatoes are sweet, and the anchovies provide a contrasting saltiness, complementing each other.

Pani cunzatu
Pani cunzatu

I tasted pani cunzatu at the charming little establishment La Luna on the outskirts of Catania. The combination of anchovies, cherry tomatoes, pepato cheese, black olives, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, and oregano was heavenly. As with other Italian dishes, the ingredients are simple but of top quality. The result is perfect. The large portion captured in the photo cost 10 EUR.

Don’t be ashamed to try pani cunzatu. You won’t be ashamed.

Bon appetit!

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