Passions & Places



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 this region).

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 Abruzzo.

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 genuineness.  

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