My next stop is in Messina to try it’s typical street dish: pitone or pidone. It is a rustic, crescent-shaped pastry dish, similar to a deep-fried calzone or double-folded pizza. Pitoni messinesi are the most famous street food of this Sicilian city overlooking the Street of Gibraltar. Unlike arancino, which you can taste almost anywhere in Sicily, you will find pitoni almost exclusively in Messina.
In the centre of Messina, I visit La Boutique del Pane run by Salvatore and Tommaso Cannata. This panificio focacceria rosticceria of the Cannata family now also exists in Milan.
Golden, filled, soft breads
I order a pitone and ask Chiara what distinguishes this product from the many other pizza-like products on Italian soil. Chiara: “Pitone is characterised by the softness of the dough, the golden breadcrumbs and the filling that is rich in local ingredients. There is no official recipe or procedure for the preparation of pitoni. Since dough without yeast is used, almost all recipes contain lard or margarine to soften it. Traditionally, they are filled with tuma cheese, escarole (endive) and anchovies, but we also make them with tomato and mozzarella or with ham and cheese. We fry the stuffed dough in hot oil.”
“There is also something to be said about the name,” Chiara continues. “Because there are currently two names in use for the same product: pitone and pidone. According to some, the term pitone is attributed to a character from Greek mythology called Pitone or Python. It is the snake dragon that guarded the Delphic Oracle before being killed by Apollo. The sandwich could refer to the Greek python.
Others claim that the original name of the Sicilian delicacy, pidone, refers to pede or foot and also means ‘woolly inner stocking‘. Like the metaphor calza or sock for a pizza calzone, the term pidone would also express a kind of stuffed pizza. From pidone grew pitone because in the Sicilian dialect a ‘t’ is pronounced instead of a ‘d’. And so by etymological python.
Address: Cannata – La boutique del Pane, Via xxvII Luglio, 81, Messin