Sgabei are something that remind me of my grandmother Emilia. She was really good on preparing them. Thanks to her I got my first Sgabeo, when I was about 4 years old at my first Festa dell’Unità during the 80’s.
It was the typical food for popular feast. The Sgabei, for me, still mean have fun with friends during summer nights and family love.
Sgabei are a specialty of Lunigiana and are really simple to prepare. You need just some strips of raised dough (the same to prepare bread or pizza), 1-1,5 inch of height and 6 to 11 inch of width. The strips of dough have to be fried in peanuts oil until they become brown and then salt them on the surface. Frying the dough strips, they rise rem but remaining empty on the inside. So sgabei can be eaten plain, or filled with cold cuts or cheeses. If you like a sweet taste, fill them with Nutella cream and put sugar instead of salt on the surface of sgabei. My favourite stuffing is stracchino cheese and raw ham.
The Story of Sgabei
Sgabei are originating from Valle del Magra in Lunigiana, a boundary area between Tuscany and Liguria. In the past, women created a kind of fried bread, frying the left-over dough prepared for backing bread using pork lard. Sgabei were the lunch for men who were working all day long in the fields. Originally the bread dough was prepared using corn flour, to make it more crunchy and wet.
Nowadays in Lunigiana it is common to find Sgabei as typical food for countryside festival, or as antipasto in specialty restaurants.