La scirubetta calabrese is a time-honored winter tradition in the toe of the boot, and like much of the area’s rustic cuisine, its preparation couldn’t be simpler.
- Wait for snow to start falling.
- Go outside and collect the freshest flakes in a pot (from the rooftop tiles is an excellent spot) and bring it into the house.
- Scoop the freshly gathered snow into a small bowl or glass.
- Drizzle it with the liquid of your choice and stir.
Here in Badolato, I am told the traditional way calls for mosto cotto — cooked wine must. Other common flavorings include honey (fig-flavored especially) or cooked fig syrup. More recently, folks have been adding sugar with orange or lemon juice (both winter fruits common throughout the region), coffee, liquor, or chocolate cream.
No bright blue artificial coloring or flavoring here . . . and voilà!
The purest snow cone imaginable. Literally.
The name of this poor man’s gelato is said to derive from the Arabic “sharbat,” which is chilled drink made from fruit or flower petals. A student of Calabrian history knows that parts of this region was heavily influenced by Arabs during the mid-Middle Ages, so this just may be when la scirubetta became a wintertime treat here as well — or at least when the name was adopted.
Adding honey to snow for a delicious brain freeze, though, dates back thousands of years in places like China, Egypt, and Mesopotamia.
Neve dolce neve? Snow sweet snow! Awwww…..
La scirubetta (shee-roo-BET-tah) isn’t the only interesting use of snow around these parts either. I am told it was also common for folks in the Sila, Serre, and Aspromonte mountains to dig profound holes, fill them with snow, and then cover them with straw. These natural refrigerators could then be used as cold storage even into the summer — but even better for the kiddos especially, the blocks of ice that formed sottoterra could also be used for la scirubetta as described above.
How’s that for recycling and reusing?
I’ve (sadly) have yet to enjoy la sciurebetta as we rarely get snow here in the village, but I’m sure I’d be partial to the coffee flavoring.
How would you flavor your scirubetta?
This is my contribution for the November 2016 Italy Blogging Roundtable‘s topic of WINTER.
I was busy working on a novel for NaNoWriMo during that month — and I “won,” having written 50,000 words in what will be the first in a cozy mystery series featuring American lawyer-turned-B&B owner Dahlia D’Amato, set in a rural southern Italian village. The first book is tentatively titled Rustic Revenge, and I’ll be sure to keep you posted! Needless to say, I didn’t get a chance to do a blog post for the Roundtable in November.
BUT meglio tardi che mai (better late than never) — and now you can catch up with the rest of the WINTER Roundtable posts too. Hurry, while it’s still wintertime!