Panigacci and Testaroli: meanings and differences
Many food specialties in La Spezia area come from the hinterland. Two of them are Panigacci and Testaroli, made from the same dough with slight differences in preparation and traditions.“But what is the difference between panigacci and testaroli?” You might wonder during a stay between Deiva Marina and Lunigiana. It’s not easy to give a definite and convincing answer and you might hear different and conflicting explanations. The truth is that panigacci and testaroli are two typical dishes of the poor cuisine of Lunigiana that arise from a very similar mixture (that of panigacci is just more dense), but differ in terms of preparation and consumption (although it must be admitted that there is someone who loves making things more confusing, serving panigacci as it is traditionally done with testaroli).
The common doughBoth panigacci and testaroli are made from a simple batter:
Testaroli, cooked in cast ironBetween the two specialties, testaroli are what today has greater commercial success at a national level. It is, therefore, easier to find them in supermarkets, even outside of the La Spezia and Lunigiana area. It’s a dish more precisely typical from Pontremoli, even if there is an original version of the Sarzana area and the lower Val di Magra (which differs primarily in the cooking on a cast iron, the so-called testo and in the very thin texture; another element of difference is that testaroli in the lower Val di Magra are not boiled). Pontremoli’s Testaroli – those most known and popular – are thick disks of dough (in the market they come in large plastic and vacuum bags, easy to fold, which owe their appearance to the cooking in large testi of cast iron.
Panigacci, made from testi of clay potsThe panigacci are widespread in almost all of Liguria and Lunigiana, but there is no doubt that their home is the town of Podenzana. The difference with testaroli, however, is not only due to the common place of origin.
So crushed, the batter bakes quickly. The testi pulled out of the oven, panigacci are detached from the cooking instrument and served still warm (often in small baskets) to eat with meats, cold hams and spread cheese.
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