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Pane Fratau

"Fratau' in Sardinian means 'grated', 'in pieces'. It is only in modern times that whole loaves of bread are used. The preparation is eaten by rolling the sheets of bread on themselves, collecting the seasoning, and is brought directly into the mouth with the hands. Its preparation is very old and certainly, in Sardinia, classifiable as a 'poor' dish and for the less well-off.

Already Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia spoke of bread soaked in water and olive oil and more. A monastic rule from the 6th century, called the 'Rule of the Master', contains a rule concerning bread crumbs that monks collect and put in a pan with eggs and flour. During the Middle Ages, the preparation consisted of a slice of bread on which the food was placed. Once the condiment was consumed, the bread soaked in the juices became precious food too. 

The most famous medieval cook, Maestro Martino da Como, 15th century, gives us a big hand in our research. He leaves us a recipe for breadcrumbs, soaked in broth and seasoned with cheese and eggs.

So, soggy bread is not only a food for the poor, but at some stages of culinary history, also a delicacy for the aristocratic classes.

The seasoning of bread with tomato sauce may find its first basis in Francesco Leonardi's 'Apicio moderno', published in 1790, when a tomato sauce is poured over pasta. While for the use of eggs it is easier to find quotations, because they have always been used in human nutrition. In the ancient world, cooking was also known as 'a la coque' by the French. In medieval times, poached eggs were called 'lost eggs'.

Grazia Deledda mentions bread dishes in her writings, as early as the end of the 19th century, including su pane frattau, seasoned with sauce and cheese. (Taken from taccuinistorici.it, text by Giovanni Fancello, expert and lecturer on the history of Sardinian gastronomy)

The spread of this dish is due to the famous 'lunches with the shepherds'. It originally became a way of eating leftover 'pane carasau', also known as 'music paper' because it makes noise when bitten.

This is how Pane Fratau is prepared: using a large, flat ladle, dip the sheets in the hot broth, usually sheep's milk broth for its stronger taste, for a few seconds so that they moisten without becoming soggy. The composition is done in the same way as lasagne is prepared, alternating a layer of sauce and grated pecorino cheese with one of pasta sheets, for a maximum of three to four layers, and on top the poached egg is placed and cooked in the same broth.

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