[Sca-cooks] Khushkananaj, cuskynoles, Italian connection?

Christiane christianetrue at earthlink.net
Mon Aug 2 12:23:33 PDT 2010

I've been following the debate with interest. The cuskynoles are seen as an "English" recipe, but the connection with khushkananaj and the fact that cuskynoles are supposed to be shaped like ravioli tickled something in my head. 

There is an Abbruzzi holiday cookie that looks like half-moon shaped ravioli and while mostly fried, are sometimes baked. They're called cavicionetti. While they do include the ground nuts, they also include things such as dried fig. There's a Neapolitan variation called caggionetti; look up an image of them, again, they look like half-moon-shaped ravioli.

>From Sicily, from the Arberesh town of Sant' Angelo Muxaro, comes a cookie called Luna di Maometto, or "Mohammed's moons." Here's a recipe in Italian:


They contain dried figs, honey, ground chestnuts and almonds, and marsala wine.

Variations on these cookies or pastries seem to be pretty common all throughout southern Italy and Sicily. Incidentally, the Arberesh are descended from Christian Albanians who fled to Southern Italy and Sicily during the 16th century from Ottoman invaders.

My feeling is that these cookies are somewhat related to khushkanaj and cuskynoles; the fig and honey additions, however, reflect the easy availability of those two ingredients in the Sicily/Southern Italian region, and the "Greek" tastes that also survive in the region. 

Finally, I found a modern Persian recipe for a cookie called sumboosic:


These feature ground walnuts and no dried fruit, as well as some ground, dried black cherry kernel.

I am not saying that any of these traditional recipes are period. These are just interesting observations of how food traditions may have gotten passed back and forth in the Mediterranean region. 

Also, I am not familiar with Sephardic sweets recipes, but I would be interested in knowing if there is a traditional, ravioli-shaped nut-filled or fruit-filled cookie or pastry from that tradition.

Adelisa de Salernum 

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