Back in October we went to Tuscany. I have always loved visiting my home region at that time of the year, not only because the roasting heat is gone by then, but also because the hills around Siena turn into a multitude of colours and home tables see some of the most wonderful products like porcini, marroni (chestnuts), truffles, and the first harvested wine.
I keep being amazed by how much seasons still dictates the menus in restaurants, homes, and supermarkets - practically nobody would dream of making panzanella, which involves fresh ripen tomatoes, in January for example. I think we are all used to nibble raspberries in February or fry courgettes in December, and of course, don't get me wrong, I find all this quite handy at times. However, there is a certain charme in going by the season and live like our parents or grand-parents did. I believe there is a strong revival and "fashion" in rediscovering old culinary traditions and flavours though so who knows somehow we might go back in time again?
One of the oldest puddings, and apparently in "extinction", that you can find at village wine festivals is Migliacci. Vegetarians should stop reading now as they won't find them at all appetizing....one of the key ingredients of these little pancakes is pig's blood which is mixed with flour - in the poorest paysant families it was replaced with breadcrumbs as wheat flour was a luxury - sugar, lard, and leftover biscuits (in Tuscany cavallucci - of which I will talk soon) and later enriched with candied fruit and chocolate. The Sienese ones are sweeter than the ones from Pisa or Pistoia becoming real puddings.
I was quite curious myself and wanted to give it a try if I had found them. The perfect opportunity was this Wine Festival in Mensano, a pretty hamlet near Colle Val d'Elsa, where, armed with a glass of wine that can be purchased at the entrance of the main road, one can walk around sampling wine from several local producers. As the samples are more than generous you need to fill up your stomach with some food and that is something else you can find in abundance - panini with freshly cut ham or finocchiona (a large salame flavoured with fennel seeds), porchetta, cheese, roasted chestnuts, and migliacci.
I am not sure whether you will ever want to reproduce them at home - I suspect it is not easy to find it...half a liter of pig's blood please! But perhaps a good old fashion butcher might smuggle in some for you! If you do though all you have to do is to mix 250ml of blood with 100g flour, 1 egg, a handful of candied fruit, 50g sugar, and if you have them some crashed cavallucci or dried aniseed biscuits - in their absence I would suggest to drop them out of the list and perhaps add a tea spoon of vanilla essence instead and an extra table spoon of flour or breadcrumbs.