The art of Scarpetta

The art of Scarpetta

Aug 22, 2022Donatella Mulvoni

It is an Italian ritual: dip a piece of bread in the last layer of sauce left on the plate. Is doing it polite or not?

Ladies and gentlemen, let's do "Scarpetta"!

If you are in Italy, when you finish your pasta, you don't throw away the last layer of sauce. "Fare la Scarpetta" means to use a piece of bread to collect the last drops of sauce on your plate (holding the piece of bread strictly by hand). It is mainly children who love to do Scarpetta, but it is a gesture loved by adults as well. How do you give up this pleasure? Especially if the sauce is made with fresh tomatoes, delicious tomato passata, and top-notch extra virgin olive oil. Another great temptation is to use bread fresh out of the oven and still warm. A treat!

A tradition from the past

The tradition of making Scarpetta comes from the years when many Italian families lived in poverty. The truth is also that the idea of wasting any food was considered almost a sin in the past. For many families, even today, food waste is frowned upon. That is why "cleaning" the plate with bread was considered a wise and valuable idea.

An Italian ritual. Is doing it polite or not?

Italians hate to waste and throw away the last layer of sauce left on the plate after you eat your pasta. It is impossible to avoid it. Let's not hide the fact that when we cook, it is very satisfying to see the diners clean their plates perfectly-it means they really enjoyed our food! Galateo - the classic Italian set of good manners and bon ton – strongly condemned Scarpetta. Not so long ago, cleaning your plate with a piece of bread was considered an extremely rude action. Today, the most recent version of Galateo has finally surrendered to the wishes of the Italian people and is more sympathetic. Scarpetta is not so much of a tricky thing anymore. Let's go, team Scarpetta!

Scarpetta: the little shoe. The meaning of the word

In Italy "fare la Scarpetta" is a colloquial expression that everybody easily understands, from north to south. The word made its triumphant entry into the Italian dictionary in the late 1980s. It is complicated to translate the word "Scarpetta." Literally, it means "little shoe" in Italian. The origins of this expression are still mysterious and unknown. For some, the word recalls the action of a little shoe cleaning the plate. 

Italian chefs adore it!

Galateo's etiquette was the last stronghold standing against this beloved habit. Despite the doubts of bon ton, many legendary chefs enthusiastically adore "Scarpetta." One of the most passionate fans is Massimo Bottura, Italian restaurateur and the chef of Osteria Francescana, the famous three-Michelin-star restaurant based in Modena (Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy.). Bottura - one of the most celebrated ambassadors of Italian cuisine - is ranked as one of the world's best chefs. He created a special dish inspired by Scarpetta. Fellow star chefs Gualtiero Marchesi and Gianfranco Vissani also are loyal defenders of the right to Scarpetta.

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