What is a Vastedda?
“guastedda” or “guastella” can be
the popular sandwich made exclusively in Palermo
soft, fresh cheese, plain round bread, or a lard bread stuffed with cheese, salami and
What Is In A Word...
derive from the Greek and Latin “gastra
changed to “guastada
(meaning carafe in Italian)
rounded vessel, pot or vase to hold foods or beverages, much like amuffoletta
food. Another assumption, with arguments open to discussions, it is alleged that in Hamitic, a language spoken
by the Berbers, the word sounding
bastil or pastil referred
to a food preparation indigenous to the Mediterranean
prepared by some of the populations living in the area surrounding the Black
Pastil or Bastil, also
words are pronounced all the same:
prepared by northern and eastern Africa
where the Semite-Hamitic language is spoken.
The Pastil is a pie made with few layers of paper thin dough similar to a strudel or the phyllo dough and stuffed
with an elaborate creamy and boneless chicken filling, originally made with squabs and enriched with raisins, pine
nuts, cinnamon and honey.
These pies, similar to the
empanadas, impanate, schiacciate or other
baked specialties were cooked for religious celebrations, festivals and on special occasions long before the Romans
dominated the Mediterranean
When the Phoenicians from Canaan, the modern regions known as Syria, Lebanon and Israel, colonized and founded
Carthage around 800 BC., it is assumed that they introduced this pie in all the lands that they inhabited.
At the present time the
pastelis is still
cooked in Syria
and it is a
popular pie and a local specialty.
The Jewish population living in the area known as Israel
prepared this dish that could be cooked in advance and eaten for the Shabbats.
Between the VIII and VII
when the Jewish Diaspora took place, this specialty was spread by the Jewish people all over the known world; each
city, village or land adapted it to their own taste and to the local available provisions.
The name morphed with time and
Bastil, or Pastille was
Pastellus, Gastellus, and Wastellus and in
later days into
Guastelle or Vasteddi.
This specialty eaten from prehistoric to modern times reached all over the world.
pastille was served
to Richard, the Lion Hearted, and today, the meat pie, a distant cousin of the
pastille, became an
The French and the Canadian stuff it with pork, beef and potatoes and changed the name to tourtiere or
The “Vastedde” In
ca mevusa” is a
sandwich stuffed with boiled spleen, lungs, and other organ meats. It is fried in lard and served either with a
slice of lemon or with a chunk of ricotta and/or flakes of caciocavallo cheese.
The bread used for the vastedda is a small
muffoletta, a round
three and half inch roll kneaded with additional water to give a spongy and soft inside, easy to split in half
making it very suitable for sandwiches. The word “muffoletta
from Latin “muffula
glove or small sack.
In 1906, a Sicilian, Salvatore Lupo at the Central Grocery in New
introduced and offered for sale the “muffoletta
with cold cuts, cheeses and giardiniera in olive oil and his signature sandwich became a New
“guastedda” or “pane ca mevusa”, bread
with spleen is part of the traditional street food sold in Palermo
Originally, those sandwiches were sold from small kiosks, the size of a telephone booth where the
made by sautéing the lard and spleen on top of a primitive charcoal stove.
Today modern eateries called “focaccerie
guastelle and other
specialties like chickpea fritters “panelle
croquettes, rice balls, “arancine
”, and flat
bread with a savory sauce, the “sfincione
”, in fancy
settings restaurant style.
It may take a little daring to try the “guastedda
” but once
you eat this delicacy you will become enthusiastically addicted to this special sandwich.
The “Gefilteh Miltz”
originality of the
guastella has been
disputed by many scholars who give merit to the Jewish for making it popular in Sicily
some of them moved to the island around the year 586 BC when they were driven out of Judea
traditional dish made with spleen stuffed with bread, onions, eggs, and cooked in “schmaltz
”, which is
rendered chicken fat, it is somewhat similar to the “vastedda
In fact the “guastedda
” is boiled
spleen cooked in lard instead of “schmaltz
”, it is
stuffed in bread and covered with cheese and ricotta.
There are some similarities between “gefilteh
miltz” and “guastedda”
interpretation could be acceptable.
A different theory is that the Greeks living in Sicily
avid consumers of those special varieties of meats popularized the “guastedda”.
the most realistic theory is that it was eaten by the islanders because it was an inexpensive food rich with
proteins and other nutrients.
Since ancient times, animal trimmings have been considered a delicacy, an aphrodisiac or nourishment with magic
powers. The innards, like tongue, sweetbreads, spleen, kidneys, tripe, liver, lungs, heart and other organs,
are used even in present times and several are sought-after specialties preferred by gourmets.
The intestines of pork are used as casing for sausages and were used in making hot dogs until the end of the
intestines stuffed with spleen, liver, lungs, heart, oatmeal and suet, the Greeks add to this stuffing the kidneys
when making the
Romans cooked these varieties of meat and served them in their lavish Lucullan banquets.
Liverwurst is a tasty liver sausage popular in Germany
and in the
Chopped liver and even
are favorites in Jewish cuisine. The French “pate
de foie gras” is
ground, seasoned spread of goose liver used as an appetizer and famous all over the world.
Kidney pie is a very
famous English dish. The interiors of fish like the
haggamuggie is a
specialty made in the Shetland
consist of the stomach of a large fish stuffed with fish liver. The caviar, fish roe, is the choice hors d'oeuvre
served with champagne in lavish feasts. Similar and other specialties are made in every cooking style in the
The “Vastedde” In The Provinces Of
cheese is exclusively produced and called“vastedda
this valley where the provinces of Palermo, Trapani and Agrigento border the sheep produce flavorsome milk
because the region is abundant with field for them to pasture, the soil is rich with minerals and water is
plentiful; in fact in this area two rivers called Left Belice River and Right Belice River converge into one to
flow into the Mediterranean Sea near Selinunte. Only in the valley
whole sheep’s milk cheese produced, hence it is called “vastedda
della Valle di Belice”.
Because it is processed differently and in the old tradition, it can be produced only in the few hottest months of
the year and in small quantities.
della Valle di Belice
has to be
consumed within a week, it is a fresh cheese lightly acidulated with a delicate and refreshing taste and because it
is produced in limited quantity it is pursued by the gourmets.
The Other "Vastedde”
“vastidduni” or “guastella” is
baked in every Sicilian province and from town to town it has a different flavor and texture.
In the province
breads made with whole-wheat flour and weighing about two pounds is called “vastidduni”
or “guastidduni”, a big
In the province
vastedde is also
made with whole-wheat flour but the different altitude, type of grain and baking technique makes the Ennese
bread that won’t become stale for at least a week. In Troina, a small town in the province
elderberry flowers, is made with dough containing flour, lard, and eggs, stuffed with fresh cheese, pork and
“affettati” –cold cuts.
combination of whole-wheat flour and the local soft grain flour produces lighter bread that when it comes out of
the oven is drizzled- not doused- with the local fresh olive oil and accompanied by a glass of Avola wine, it can
be a complete meal.
variety of breads are produced using the wheat called
grows in this region. The “vastidduni
” is round
bread with a hard dark brown crust and a golden inside, the “muddica
Castelvetrano, a large town in the province
” is also