Grape Must Pudding (Sugoli)

I often think about what seasonality means to me.

Back in Italy, I thought I knew very clearly what eating seasonally meant, and I behaved accordingly. If we pay the smallest attention, we will see how traditional Italian recipes reflects this pure and simple concepts. But now that I live in London, seasonal food is different from what I was used to, or it simply comes at a different time. For instance, in Italy I was used to eating figs at the end of August, while here they are still tough and green, staring at me from the branches with stone-like attitude.

September, in my mind, is the month of grape harvest. In Italian, we have a specific name for the harvest of grapes, which is different from other kinds of harvests: vendemmiare. This is why we chose it for this month’s theme of Italian Table Talk: it is a key moment in the Italian cycle of seasonal food, and it carries a good deal of history and local traditions, but also interesting recipes with grapes and must. This time of the year, everywhere in Italy you can find festivals that celebrate the harvest and the end of the Summer season: from North to South, the end of the vendemmia is a feast worth remembering with good food and, of course, wine.

 

Alas, the UK is not big at viticulture. What I thought was an easy task –getting some wine grapes such as Concord/Fox grape, or Merlot Grape, or Muscat Grape for my recipe– revealed being pretty challenging. All I could find was seedless table grapes from Chile. I finally spotted a little store who had only a few clusters of Muscat Grapes imported from France, and I jumped on them, despite their hard-to-justify price. This is when I started to reflect on the relativity of seasonality: never take anything for granted. What is cibo dei poveri (food of the poor) here, is a luxury good there.

And to think that in Italy, especially in the past, wine grapes were the only ones, for the rich and the poor. Seasonal workers would have been enrolled in the harvest and surely, some grapes would have been taken home, perhaps the damaged ones, to eat and cook. In Veneto, women made a sweet pudding with grape must, a thick and energetic sweet treat, perfect to give some calories to keep going in the vineyards. Sugoi, or sùgoli, was indeed a sweet of the poor, as it was made with the simplest, available ingredients and didn’t require much sugar –the sweetness from the grapes was enough. Some women would make giant pots of sùgoli and sell them in town, where people were waiting with a bowl in hands, ready to welcome a generous scoop of that purple red delight. In my family, sùgoli have been made through generations, passing from grandma to mum to daughter. My mum made them for us sometimes, but my memory of it is far and vague –all I remember is that I didn’t particularly like them as a child.

I haven’t eaten them since then. But this month’s theme was the perfect occasion to rediscover this family recipe, this local tradition linked to this specific time of the year. I bought my grapes, a masher, and got started.

The name sùgoli is somehow related to the word “sugo”, juice. It is, indeed, nothing more than a grape juice pudding. You can make it starting from the must, but if you only have the grapes like me, you have to extract the juice before getting into the thickening part. The recipe, of course, is as easy as it sounds. Just grapes, flour and, perhaps, some sugar. Additional toppings include cinnamon or dark cocoa powder, but none of them have ever been used in my family.



Sùgoli

 1,5 kg wine grapes
4 T all-purpose flour, sifted
1 T granulated white sugar (optional, to taste, depending on the type of grape you’re using)

Wash grapes and place them in a large saucepan over a low heat with 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil and simmer until grapes have busted, about 5 minutes. Using a masher or a strainer, separate the juice (must) from seeds and skins. Let the juice cool. Put the juice back in the saucepan over low heat and add the flour (and, if used, the sugar), whisking energetically to avoid lumps. Bring to a simmer, and cook for about ten minutes, until the sauce becomes thick and dense. Remove from heat and pour into serving cups. Let cool, then store in the refrigerator until ready to eat. Serve cold.


 

°°°°°°
[IT]

Sùgoli
1,5 kg di uva da vino
4 cucchiai di farina 00 setacciata
1-2 cucchiai di zucchero semolato*

Lavate gli acini e metteteli in una pentola con un dito d’acqua sul fondo. Portate ad ebollizione e cuocere per circa 5 minuti. Sentirete gli acini scoppiettare. Quando tutti gli acini sono aperti, passateli al passaverure per rimuovere semi e bucce. Lasciate raffreddare, quindi rimettete sul fuoco e versate subito la farina ed, eventualmentem lo zucchero. Amalgamante con una frusta, velocemente per evitare grumi. Cuocete per circa 5-10 minuti, fino a che il liquido si è addensato e ha raggiunto una consistenza da budino. Togliete dal fuoco e versate negli stampini o in uno stampo grande. lasciate raffreddare, quindi servite o mettete in frigo. Sono buoni serviti freddi.

*L’aggiunta di zucchero dipende dal vostro gusto personale e dalla dolcezza dell’uva. Se usate uva fragola o di moscato, ve ne servirà poco o nulla.

 

11 Comments

  1. Rosa's Yummy Yums September 11, 2012

    Gorgeous grape pictures and a delicious pudding!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    Reply
  2. l'albero della carambola September 11, 2012

    Passare di qui è sempre piacevole e…trovare queste foto bellissime e questa ricetta "della memoria" lo è ancora di più! Complimenti, un saluto
    simona

    Reply
  3. Emiko September 11, 2012

    I love this: the connection with your family, the season and the recipe itself. I've never been able to find concord grapes here in Australia, much to my disappointment as they are a favourite for making schiacciata all'uva. Will have to maybe steal some wine grapes from winemaker friends! By the way, Marco (who does not have a sweet tooth AT ALL) said, "si fa?" when I showed him this post! 😉

    Reply
    • Linda September 12, 2012

      I can totally sympathize with both of you! Concord grapes are all I can find here, in New York City. I miss muscat grapes, which we used to buy in bulk every year in California.

      Reply
    • Valeria September 16, 2012

      Eheh, I can see how this recipe creates some nostalgic longings in Italian expats –its simple flavors just hit the right spots, I guess. As for the grapes, it is very sad to see those engineered seedless grapes replacing the "old" ones.

      Reply
  4. Reb September 11, 2012

    Solo chi ha luce dentro, può catturare questa luce fuori. Val'etta, arrivo eh, sei sempre nei miei pensieri. For now, just a hug, a big one.

    Reply
  5. Mela e Cannella September 11, 2012

    Meraviglia delle meraviglie in questo posto foto divine e calde e ricetta incantevole della nostra tradizione amo e adoro

    Reply
  6. Juls @ JulsKitchen September 12, 2012

    ok, I will tell this in English, so I might not be prosecuted by law! I decided to steal some grapes from a nearby field, since in the supermarket the wine grape was damn expensive, almost like buying jewels… and we're in Italy!!
    This said, I love the recipe, and I totally agree about the seasonal food and how different it could be, not to mention the food of the poor that is now the food of the rich people.. think at chestnut flour, just to mention an item!
    Lovely post, I love your blog Val, every day more and more!

    Reply
    • Valeria September 16, 2012

      Or baccalà, which now costs like a kidney! Or the offal parts served at St John here in London…Thanks dear, you know how much I value your opinion. Lets keep going with this, it pushes me to do always better.

      Reply
  7. Silvia September 13, 2012

    Mi sento di giocare un po' in casa anche io oggi:-) Mio papà, che è veneto, mi ha sempre parlato di questo budino di mosto che gli davano ogni autunno da mangiare, lì per lì, mi raccontava, non lo sopportava, mentre adesso farebbe di tutto per rimangiarlo.. Quasi quasi potrei fargli una sorpresa ed usare la tua ricetta??!!!
    Per i grappoli d'uva, lo so, essere a Londra ti fa capire quanto noi siamo privilegiati per quantità, qualità e prezzo della frutta/verdura a cui possiamo attingere, e adesso che vivo qui mi sento quasi in colpa di vedere tanti filari d'uva e non potertene portare neanche un po'!
    Foto superbe come sempre, bravissima

    Reply
    • Valeria September 16, 2012

      Ah, la memoria edulcorata, mi piace molto questa cosa a dire il vero, perché è successa la stessa identica cosa a me scrivendo e facendo questa ricetta. Fagliela, la sorpresa, sono sicura che gli piacerebbe! Goditi quel paradiso appartato che è Bra/Pollenzo fin che puoi, tu che hai provato anche Londra e sai di cosa parlo…Avrà sempre un posto d'onore dentro di te.

      Reply

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