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July 11, 2007


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Susan from Food Blogga

Oh, I just love this post, Simona! Thanks for submitting it to WHB. Growing up in an Italian-American family, I loved to hear my grandmother and my parents talk about the classic "peasant dishes" that they made from stale bread. They would eat it for breakfast by soaking it in milk or coffee as well as for lunch and dinner by soaking it (like you described) in water. Panzanella is one of my favorite dishes. The only thing that would make it better is following your instructions about the tomatoes. I'll be doing it next time I make panzanella. P.S. Balsamic vinegar on tomatoes in a little taste of heaven. :)


I love hearing the way your family made this. It's definitely different than versions I've seen in cookbooks. I am in the vinegar-loving camp with you, but I'd have to have a tiny bit of sea salt too!

This was my favorite word so far to hear the Italian pronunciation, because of course I was pronouncing it differently in my mind, having seen the word so many times!

Simona Carini

I guess we all agree about the vinegar. Stale bread was a reality when women baked it once a week, so indeed there are many dishes that use it as ingredient. Bread was basically a sacred food and it could not be simply discarded. Susan, do you remember other dishes you heard mentioned?
Kalyn, I am glad you enjoyed the sound of this word.


I've always wanted to make panzanella. I've never had a chance to make it yet. Soon, I hope. I don't think I'd mind the vinegar. I'd like to try it. ;-)



P.S. I love the photo of your panzanella. Yum!


Simona Carini

Thanks Paz. With fresh tomatoes available at farmers' markets it is easier to be tempted. I am planning to try and use some rye bread i have on the counter and see what happens. As for the vinegar, you can start by using just a little bit or balsamic one, which is less strong and see how you like it.


Once again a great dish from years ago. I wonder if today’s dishes will ever hold their own like these. Anyway I too enjoy vinegar and salt on my tomatoes, I remember seasoning every bite from my fathers green house tomatoes. Have you tried it with a balsamic reduction with sugar?

Simona Carini

Interesting to read that panzanella is known in your country, John. Balsamic reduction with sugar sounds like concentrated heavenly taste: thanks for the suggestion, I'll try to make it.


Usually I've thought of panzanella as "bread salad," because that's how someone first described it to me. Your version in the photo doesn't look like a salad at all (but it looks delicious). Also, some recipes I've seen have everything but the kitchen sink going in there; your father's version is simple and good. I must try it; thanks for the instructions.

I know I've said this before, but I must say it again: What wonderful memories you have, and you express them so charmingly as stories.

Simona Carini

Thank you so much, Lisa, for your kind words. I believe that in Tuscany, panzanella is made more like a bread salad, with the bread cut into bite-size pieces. I object to the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink versions: I think panzanella is really about tomatoes. Let me know if you try my father's version.

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briciole di italiano

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