Friday, December 11, 2009
Cuccia - St. Lucy Wheat
Cuccia is a traditional cooked wheat dish, served only on St. Lucy's day in Sicilian households. Santa Lucia is honored in every town in Sicily. On her feast day they observe a “no pasta, no bread” rule and cuccia is made in all the towns. The tradition comes from a time when during a famine, the people of Syracuse prayed for the intercession of St. Lucy. A ship arrived laden with grain. People were so eager to eat that they boiled the wheat without waiting for it to be ground and ate it simply dressed with olive oil. This was the first cuccia.
Cuccia can be made so that it's sweet or savory. In Syracuse chickpeas and fava beans were added, and sweet cuccia is made by adding honey and sometimes chocolate. Each town makes it in its own way, and families have different variations as well. The different versions of cuccia can be served through the day at different meals.
To make cuccia, obtain hard winter wheat from a health food store. Soak the grain in cold water for 24 hours (or at least overnight) and rinse. Cover wheat with water about four inches over the top, with a little oil or butter and pinch of salt. Bring to boil, turn down heat to medium, stir often with wooden spoon. Add boiling water as needed to keep from scorching. Cook until wheat pops open and insides are soft. Drain excess water if needed. It can be served cold or warm, plain or with milk or cream like oatmeal and sweetened with honey, dried fruit, or chocolate bits for breakfast or dessert. Some versions include ricotta. Chick peas, lentils or onions might be added for a savory fare at other meals. This Sicilian cooking website includes several of the variations of cuccia depending on your preference.
Relying on Your goodness, O God, we humbly ask you, by the intercession of your servant, Saint Lucy, to give perfect vision to our eyes, that we may serve for your greater honor and glory. And we pray for the salvation of our souls in this world, that we may come to the enjoyment of the unfailing light of the Lamb of God in heaven.
St. Lucy, virgin and martyr, hear our prayers and answer our petitions.