The nick name beccamorti (gravediggers) has been given to the Montalcino population in 1260 when they went to the Montaperti so slowly that when they got there the battle was over, and the Sienese, winning side, punished them, forcing them to bury all of the dead. And there were so many corpses that Dante said that their blood coloured the Arbia river red. An historic episode of which we cannot be proud which though later was cancelled through great demonstrations of courage in the centuries that followed when Montalcino defended its independence for so long that it remained the last free city inItaly(1559).
The Ossi di Morto biscuits (literally translated dead man’s bones) refer to the battle of Montaperti? Nobody knows.
Are these the typical biscuit for the religious autumn festivities? I’m quite sure it is not so, in this period of the year one finds on our table “pan coi santi”, a delicious sweet bun with nuts, raisins and black pepper.
On the other hand the Ossi di morto biscuits were in the glass containers in the Montalcino cupboards all year long. These used to be what was baked for last in the brick-ovens by the farmers after the bread, the tarts and cakes, together with the meringues made with egg whites and sugar.
Ingredients for 4 people:
100g of flour, 300g of sugar,200 gof almonds, 3 egg whites, 1 lemon, extra virgin olive oil
Preparation: parboil the almonds and peel them. Chop half of them roughly then add the flour, sugar, grated lemon rind and the beaten stiff egg whites. Mix gently with a fork from the bottom to the top so as not to deflate the egg whites. In the end the mixture will be quite consistent to which you will five a cylindrical shape. Slice so as to form discs to put on a greased baking tray. Bake at180°Cfor 30 minutes. They will be ready when the surface is a nice amber colour.
Serve once cold and keep in tins so that they do not lose their crispness.