The panarda: the ancient typical Abruzzo banquet
The origin of the word Panarda is uncertain; probably it comes from the fusion of pane (bread) and lardo (bacon fat).
In the past it was wrongly attributed to Edoardo Scarfoglio who, at the end of the 19th century, on the occasion of a Pantagruelian dinner party offered to Gabriele d’Annunzio, Matilde Serao, Francesco Michetti and some other famous guests in his own palace in Paganica, would have coined the word. In the work “Regno delle due Sicilie descritto ed illustrato”, in the historical monograph about Villalago during the 1850s, Giuseppe Tanturri writes that in this village the Panarda was the wedding dinner, made up of numerous courses . In Villavalelonga (AQ) the same word is still used to indicate the sumptuous banquet that some families of the village organize on 16 January, eve of St. Anthony abbot’s day.
Therefore in our alimentary culture the word Panarda means a big banquet prepared in the course of the “cycle of the year and of the man” on the occasion of special festivities, such as weddings, killing of pigs, grain threshing etc. as well as merry events like the feast of a district. In this case the Panarda works as an element of union and of strengthening of the ties among all the people belonging to that social group. It also spreads the news of this particular Abruzzo tradition outside the region.
The number of the courses is not always the same: they can be 19 (referring to St. Joseph), or 24, as in this case, in honour of St. John the Baptist and of the godfather (lu San Giuanne).
Recently 51 courses have been presented at the Panarda organized by the Hotel School in Villa Santa Maria and 77 courses at the Panarda prepared by the Hotel School in Roccaraso..(*)
The panarda is historically organized by the villages of Sulmona, L'Aquila, Luco dei Marsi, Rocca di Botte, Villavallelonga.
(*) Associazione SESTIERE PORTA MANARESCA, Sulmona, a cura del Prof. Professor Franco Cercone, antropologo)