This is a preview of the content in our Italian Food Decoder app. Get the app to:
  • Read offline
  • Remove ads
  • Build a list of your own favourites
  • Search the contents with full-text search functionality
  • ... and more!
iOS App Store Google Play


boiled wheat sweet

Boiled grains of wheat cooked with sweet cooked wine (vino cotto) sugar, pomegranate seeds, walnuts and grated dark chocolate.

Perhaps it's not surprising that it's eaten in the formerly Greek parts of Italy: it resembles the pre-Christian kolyva (boiled wheat kernels sweetened with honey or sugar, and mixed with sesame seeds, almonds, ground walnuts, cinnamon, pomegranate seeds and raisins) that was distributed during the ancient Anthesteria festival, and which is still shared today at Orthodox funerals.

In Sicily, however, the dessert is closely associated with St Lucy, who in May 1646 delivered the goods when her city Siracusa was struck with a terrible famine. The goods came in the form of wheat, which the starving Siracusans devoured whole, rather than waste time grinding and turning it into flour. And to this day, they eat cuccia on 13 December, St Lucy's day, in memory of her intervention that, perhaps like kolyva symbolizes life after death.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Image by Sicilian Factory