Sgabei, the tasty deep-fried pastry that is often served with antipasta, originates from the Val di Magra area, on the border of Liguria. It is usually served as a snack or together with salumi or cheese, and can be found both in Lunigiana and the La Spezia region of Liguria.
Originally, sgabei were strips of leftover bread dough that were deep-fried in lard and eaten at lunchtime with the local salami and cheese. Today, they are still prepared in the traditional way using a bread dough, although they are fried in olive oil rather than lard, sprinkled with salt and eaten plain or stuffed with cheese or meat. The strips of sgabei are often cut up into pillow shapes before being deep fried.
An increasingly popular, but less traditional, way of eating sgabei is sprinkled with suger rather than salt and filled with pastry cream, chocolate or Nutella.
Similar pastries are common in the north of Italy. In Mantova they are called Pinsin.
Sgabei are often served at food festivals in Lunigiana. Here is a video of them being prepared at the Festa della Fame e della Sete in Filattiera.
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