Biancomangiare: an ancient cousin of Panna Cotta

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Biancomangiare: an ancient cousin of Panna Cotta

Posted by: Federica Deriu
Category: Italian Food



What I like of Italian food is that it is flavoured with stories and anecdotes.

Biancomangiare ( white dish)  is mostly popular known as a Sicilian dessert.
It has its roots in Medieval time, when the monks used to prepare a savoury version made with almonds, bread, chicken, milk and flour.
In the 17th century the dish evolved into a dessert thickened with cream.
The monks used this delicate dish as a medicine for someone sick or with delicate stomach. The white color of this dish might have been somehow related to the idea of purity.  At the end of 15th century Marcello Ficino, a philosopher and alchemist, spoke about biancomangiare as a way to nurse the black bile.

As often happens the modern languages reflect and inherit thousand of century of traditions and beliefs and that is probably why in Italian we still have the expression:

mangiare in bianco


to eat in white

which means to have a detox diet or to eat something light which for the Italians is pasta or rise with no condiments.
My grandmother’s strategy to cure all the maladies of my childhood was boiled riso in bianco cooked with an onion.
That must be the reason why even today my confort food is boiled brown rice, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

For my Biancomangiare I used homemade almond milk and I followed the recipe of Emiko Davies an half Japanese half Australian food blogger whose book “Acquacotta” is a beautiful homage to Capalbio, a little known, but suggestive corner of Tuscany.

Here the recipe.


Author: Federica Deriu

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