[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

Recipes: 14 March 2019
Updates ... sometimes
13 March 2019

As discussed on this site before (links below), we have been observing a medieval style Lent for some years now. It is an exercise in will-power, and an experiment in medieval food ways. Essentially we eschew meat, eggs, and dairy for the period of Lent with a few exceptions. We give ourselves one feast day each week. If we're going to a special event of any sort, we usually choose that day, otherwise we pick as the fancy strikes us. This year we're also permitting ourselves dairy one day mid-week, since our tradition of Burrito Wednesdays is now firmly established.

One of the things which has struck me about our little exercise is the isolation we experience with this practice in the modern age, while in the medieval period, it would have been a reinforcement of a sense of community. The communal Lenten fast was, theoretically at least, observed by the high and the low alike. Although the poor family's salted herring (again!) was a far cry from the elaborate Lenten meals of the elite, both households abstained from meat, eggs, and dairy.

The elite households didn't suffer terribly, though. There were substitutions available for milk, and fish in abundance. Our Lenten meals resemble those more than the fast of the poor. We have fish to hand, and a variety of modern ingredients which were not in any medieval kitchen - tofu and other soy products, a wide selection of vegetables, and herbs and spices galore.

Our usual diet is not too far from the Lenten ideal, save for the dairy. Given that we eat mostly vegetarian anyway, I don't have to go on a desperate quest for recipes. However, I do like to keep an eye out for recipes that can be added to our list of usual suspects. Our weekly veg box comes with a little newsletter that has a brief article, hints about care of the veg, and a couple of recipes. A while back, one of the recipes was for pangrattata. I'd not heard of it before, and it looked really good. It was, and we've had it several times since. Best of all at this time of year, it's fully Lenten!


  • a small tin (50 gm) of anchovy fillets
  • several minced garlic cloves
  • a good sprinkle of chili flakes
  • a large handful of breadcrumbs
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • vegetables, pasta
As with most things in my world, the amounts above are simply a guideline - adjust them to your taste. The method remains the same.

[Pangrattata] Heat a good splash of oil. Add the anchovies and mash them up thoroughly with your spoon. Once the anchovies have started to come apart, add the garlic, and stir. Then add the breadcrumbs, stirring them around so they start to toast in the oil, as the absorb it. Add the chili flakes, continue to stir and fry until the colour seems right to you - toasty brown but not black is about right.

Use it as the finish and garnish for any sort of pasta and vegetable mix you like. Cook the pasta in your usual fashion, and blanch, steam, or otherwise prepare your vegetables. Then toss the pasta and vegetables with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Top with the pangrattata and garnish as you will.

The dish pictured was made with courgettes/zucchini, and some spinach. I simply added them to the pasta pot a few minutes after the pasta went in. After the pasta and veg was drained, the whole thing was topped with the pangrattata and some fresh tomato. Delicious. I've also used broccoli, which was likewise delightful. Fresh parsley added at the end is good. I wouldn't hesitate to use nearly anything which comes to hand. As long as the vegetables aren't overcooked, the effect is light and fresh.

Finally, a word about the anchovies. Even if you don't like them, please give them a try in this. I am not an anchovy aficionado by any stretch. Growing up, they only appeared on pizza and were horrible. On pizza, they are still horrible. However, in things like this or in a vegetable soup, they are a thing of beauty. Cooked long enough, and in reasonably small quantities, they dissolve and add depth and richness to the flavours. Tinned anchovies are a source of umami, and they don't have fishy taste - unless you go overboard, naturally. Try it. Try it in a vegetable soup, too. A tin added at the very beginning, squished up, will vanish leaving only an elevated broth.

Previous Lenten articles:

© 2019 Jeff Berry

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