It is said that fristingo is the most ancient Christmas sweet (it is even
more ancient than Christmas itself) and that its recipe, more than two
thousand years ago, has been used by the Etruscan and the Picenums. The
recipe included the alica (semolina composed of spelt, barley, hard wheat
and soft wheat of March) mewed with grape juice which was previously
boiled in earthenware pots.
So the frustingo was a poor
but nourishing bread appreciated by the romans who used to call it
“panis picentinus” and it excited the interest of Plinio who wrote how
the fristingo was consumed at that time,
softening it in the honey.
This ancient recipe was handed
down to posterity by the housewives and, still today, this delicious sweet
is the protagonist in the windows of many shops and therefore on the
marchigian tables adorned at Christmastime.
The traditional recipe –
which is slowly evolved, during the time, to follow the changing of tastes
and also to get round the lack of some ingredients - uses stale bread finely minced and softened in a kind of
broth made with dried figs and boiled must (which is called “sapa” in
To this compound dried fruits,
chocolate and spices must be added and even a spray of anisette which is
present in numerous marchigian sweets. The gastronomic tradition doesn’t
mind long preparation times but it gives a special attention to
genuineness and care of its dishes; in fact it’s necessary to work dough
for a long time adding, every now and then, a bit of local olive oil.
Leave the dough to stand for a
long time, then arrange it in moulds and bake in the oven (in the
countryside many people still use the traditional ovens); at last it can
be tasted together with a glass of mulled wine. Its ancient fragrance is
still appreciated and, even if with different names, it is a widespread
Christmas sweet in the whole territory of this region up to trespass to
Although this recipe belongs
to the picenums tradition, the fristingo is present in different areas of
Marche (from Ancona up to Amandola including the entire provinces of
Macerata and Ascoli Piceno) and it is known with different names (for
example pistringo, pristingu, pristingulu, fristingu, fristingulu, ficusu,
frestinghe and crustingu) in the numerous villages in which it is
prepared. There are different versions from the original recipe
(considered as typical products of their own zone) as the “frustenga”,
which is present in the hinterland near Macerata and also in the
area of Ancona, produced with corn meal or, the “bostrengo” which is
sold in the province of Pesaro and prepared with chestnut flour and rice.
In honour of its long history,
the fristingo has been officially included on the list of those
traditional products that must be saved to promote, for a long time again,
the production of this delicious sweet which has maintained its original
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