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Chicken broth
Funeral Food -- Chicken Broth with Flaked Chicken Breast Meat
Originated from: Casacalenda, Campobasso
Occasion: Funerals
Contributed by: Mary Melfi (her mother's recipe)

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Chicken Broth
Chicken breasts, flaked
Store-bought pastina
Pecorino cheese, grated
Parsley, chopped


o Make home-made chicken broth (For recipe see "Brodo di Pollo")

o Strain chicken broth.

o Discard everything used to make chicken broth, except the chicken breast.

o Flake chicken breast (The flakes look like very thin strings).

o Meanwhile cook pastina ("little" pasta especially made for soups) in a large pot of boiling water. Drain. Place the pastina in a bowl and add about 1/4 cup of broth (One adds the broth to the pastina so that it will not get lumpy.).

o Place the strained chicken broth in individual bowls. Add about 1/8 cup of flaked chicken breast and 1/8 cup cooked pastina in each bowl.

o Garnish with grated cheese and chopped parsley.


Prior to World War II it was the custom to prepare chicken soup on the day of a funeral. Generally, the soup was prepared by close relatives of the bereaved family. However, as chicken meat was relatively expensive at that time, not everyone could afford to make it and offer it to their loved ones. According to my mother those who could not afford to make chicken soup with flaked chicken breast meat (considered the best part of the chicken) and store-bought pastina (Back then store-bought pasta and store-bought pastina had more status than those made at home; so for a funeral, a special event, a home cook would add store-bought pastina rather than make it herself.), added beaten egg to the broth rather than meat from some other part of the chicken (see Version II). Using meat from the thigh or leg of the chicken would have been O.K. to make the broth, but it would not have been O.K. to serve it, as that meat, which was not as tasty as breast meat (and not as easily flaked) would have been seen as disrespectful. At that time eggs had more status than dark chicken meat. Nonetheless (again according to my mother) the poorest of the poor (especially those relatives that were not next of kin) would offer the bereaved any food they had on hand -- including "pasta e fagiole" (any food was better than none). It was assumed that the family that experienced a death of a loved one should be given food for obvious reasons -- firstly, because they understood that if a family had to take care of a funeral they would not have the time or energy to cook, and secondly, it was a way to show their love and support in a time of sorrow.... Photo: Mary Melfi.

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