In the month of February there are various holidays to celebrate throughout Italy besides San Valentino. One of the sweets that accompanies a holiday dedicated to Saint Agata is called Virgin's Breasts.
Why yes, those cherries on top are there for a reason!
*The minne photographed above I got to sample at an incredible bakery in Licata, Sicily!
A little history behind these cookies:
From: Il conto delle minne’, a book by Giuseppina Torregrossa,
"Ogni anno nonna Agata vuole accanto a sé la nipote Agatina per insegnarle i segreti dei dolci in onore della Santa di cui entrambe portano il nome. Mentre impastano le cassatelle a forma di seno, le "minne", la nonna racconta il martirio della Santuzza, cui il crudele console Quinziano, non sopportando di sentirsi respinto, fece tagliare le mammelle. La drammatica vicenda rivela una delle regole del mondo maschile. Devi sapere che gli uomini, se non ci provi piacere quando ti toccano, si sentono mezzi masculi, ma guai a te se ci provi piacere, perché allora ti collocano tra le buttane"
Agatha, the beautiful daughter of Catania was of course a virgin and also took a vow of chastity to ensure her virginity. A Roman governor of Sicily became enthralled by her beauty. Agatha was not interested at all and he became quite angry. So angry that he ordered her breasts be cut off.
There is a very large celebration still today in Catania. From February 3-5 there are 1000's of men that pull her 40,000 pound carriage that holds Agatha's relics all through the city. There are fireworks and candles. It is very much like the festival of Sant'Angelo, the patron saint of my father's town in Sicily.
For a beautiful story about the Feast of Saint Agatha in Catania, read The Stone Boudoir: Travels Through the Hidden Villages of Sicily by Theresa Maggio. I have been devouring this book and don't want it to end.
need to find the recipe...got lost in Savoring Italy old transfer