The term " maccu " indicates a "large dish of shelled broad beans", cooked in water and reduced to a paste.
The broad bean is widespread in every part of the island as it constitutes an alternative culture to wheat, that is, it is sown in wheat fields the year in which the land is left to rest to enrich the land with nitrogen. " U Maccu " is one of the most famous peasant soups. Similar meaning to the Italian macco, subsequently and generically extended to "minestra stracotta" and "poltiglia".
Boiled broad bean soup or polenta is an ancient food. It is connected to the "plus fabata" mentioned by Pliny as a sacred dish.
In Sicily the cultivation of broad beans (vicia faba) is of very ancient tradition. Unlike the Romans who ate broad beans only during funeral rites, the Sicilians have always made extensive use of broad beans in their diet, both dry and green .
The Romans made great use of it, so much so that one of the "gentes", the most important families in the history of Rome, the Fabi, took their name from the broad bean (faba). For Pythagoras beans were: "food of the dead", a means of contacting the afterlife. The macco has traditionally been a poor man's food: dried broad beans left for a whole night in a pot in slightly salted water and, after having cooked them, dented with a fork so as to reduce them to a puree. Just add a drizzle of oil and eat.
In the frequent conditions of poverty to which the popular classes were subjected, the macco was sometimes the single dish of many families for morning and evening. Until a few decades ago, the landlords gave the farm laborers a bowl of it as the main meal of the day and only exceptionally, for example during the threshing, was the pasta eaten.
"U maccu" is a fragrant and delicate broad beans velouté cooked in stew, very common among the islanders and which has been handed down to the present day, the resulting puree is flavored with wild fennel seeds and flavored with extra virgin olive oil olive.
Maccu is a dish considered suitable for strong people . If you want to serve a traditional first course, prepare the very Sicilian "Maccu", but think about it in time because the dried and peeled broad beans must be soaked in water before being cooked, for at least twelve hours. Remember that cooking in an earthenware pot it turns out to be the best because the beans must cook over a low heat for at least three to four hours.
The whole island has its variations. characteristic is that of Raffadali, it is no coincidence that this town is also called "u paisi du maccu", where it has been preserved as a traditional food and where it is still widely used today.
Over time, the maccu has lost the characteristics of a dish linked to particular moments and has become, together with other types of soup, an excellent "single dish" for the poorer classes and an appetizing first course for the more affluent. In the century XV there was a special container for its preparation "ad opus mirandi maccum".
A peculiar characteristic of the maccu is due to the fact that, once cooled, it can be kept covered with a veil of oil to be eaten later cut into slices. The cooled puree can also be eaten fried in extra virgin olive oil.
Regarding the preservation of the macco in oil, the saying "livari l'ogliu du maccu" (remove the oil from the macco) is still in use, an action that indicates a particular skill in manual activities. It is prepared in Syracuse not with dried broad beans but with fresh green ones, on the occasion of the feast of San Giuseppe and therefore in the Syracuse area and also in the province of Ragusa it is called San Giuseppe soup.
The broad bean maccu can be enriched not only with "u finuccheddu sarvaggiu" ( https://www.emporiosicilia.it/prodotto/crema-di-finocchietto-selvatico-i-peccatucci-di-mamma-andrea/ ), also with “a cocuzza baffa”, ”i giriteddi servaggi” and sometimes also with spinach. You can also add small pieces of salted tomato and pepper.
For “u maccu” to be a complete dish, you need to add pasta which can be “spaettu tagghiatu”, “pasta maritata”, or better still “tagghiarini di pasta frisca” ( https://www.emporiosicilia.it/prodotto/spaghetti -Sicilians-of-perciasacchi-caradonna/ )
Do you want to prepare macco at home? Do it with our 100% Sicilian broad beans !