Saturday, July 20 2024

La Scarpetta: An Ancient Italian Tradition
In Italy, cooking is not just about food, but a true ritual that celebrates family, tradition and the love of genuine flavors.

Among the most beloved and ingrained customs in Italian gastronomic culture is the “scarpetta.”

But what does it mean to scarpetta in sauce?

What is scarpetta?
Making the scarpetta means taking a piece of bread and using it to scoop up the sauce left on the plate after eating.

This simple but deeply satisfying act is a way of not wasting a single drop of the delicious sauce that has flavored the dish.

The word “scarpetta” comes from the word “shoe,” suggesting the idea of “cleaning” the dish with bread, as if it were a small broom.

Origin and Meaning of the Expression “Making the Scarpetta.”

Derivation from the Term “Shoe”

One of the most widely accepted theories about the origin of the expression “making the slipper” is that it derives from the word “shoe.”

This term evokes the image of something that cleans or collects, just as a shoe collects what it steps on.


Similarity with the Shoe Movement

Another possible explanation is related to the movement one makes with bread to scoop the gravy onto the plate.

This circular and painstaking movement is reminiscent of the gesture of wiping the floor with a broom, and by extension, with a “scarpetta.”

The bread thus becomes a small broom that cleans the plate.


The Scarpetta as an Object of Utility

In some regions of Italy, “scarpetta” was a term used to refer to small tools or objects of daily use.

Making the scarpetta, then, could be a figurative way of indicating the use of a small tool, in this case bread, to perform a useful action, namely scooping up gravy.


A Gesture of Respect and Appreciation

Scooping is also seen as a gesture of respect toward the person who cooked.

Not wasting a single drop of sauce is a way of showing that the food has been appreciated and enjoyed to the last bite.

This gesture encapsulates the philosophy of Italian cuisine, where food is sacred and should never be wasted.


The Origins of the Scarpetta

The origins of the scarpetta are ancient and lost in the mists of time.

This custom is widespread throughout Italy, with small regional variations.

Some claim that the scarpetta originated in the countryside, where bread was precious and nothing could be allowed to go to waste.

Others believe it is a tradition linked to conviviality and love of good food, typical of Italian families.


The Scarpetta Today

Today, making the slipper is a gesture that transcends social classes and generations.

It is common to see children, adults and the elderly making the scarpetta with the same enthusiasm.

In restaurants, although it may seem a bit informal, it is often tolerated and even appreciated by restaurateurs, who see this gesture as a sign of appreciation for their cuisine.


How to Make the Scarpetta: An Art to Perfect

Making the scarpetta is not just a matter of picking up the bread and scooping up the sauce.

There are some unwritten rules to follow:

The Choice of Bread: The bread should be fresh and have a good crust that can absorb the sauce without breaking. Homemade bread is often the best choice.

The Right Moment: Scarpetta is done at the end of the meal, when the plate is now empty of solid food but full of sauce.

The Technique: Use your thumb and forefinger to hold the piece of bread firmly and dip it into the gravy in circular motions, making sure to catch every drop.



Making scarpetta is a ritual that celebrates the goodness of food and the Italian culinary tradition.

It is a gesture of respect to the person who prepared the meal and a way to end lunch or dinner with a smile of satisfaction.

The next time you are faced with a plate of pasta or a stew with a delicious sauce, do not hesitate to do the scarpetta: it is a small pleasure that encapsulates all the flavor of Italy.

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