The frisella, also called frisa, makes its first appearance back in 1300. Typical of Southern Italy regions such as Campania and even more Puglia, its literal description is: bagel-shaped toasted roll. The name frisella probably derives from the Latin “frendere”, which means grind, cut into small pieces, and in fact the frisella is a crumbly food.
It can be seen as a durum hard bread biscuit, cut horizontally in half and toasted again in the oven. The dough is entirely mixed by hand and is made from durum wheat flour, water, salt and yeast. The dough is then cut and rolled in a shape reminiscent of the bagel. After the first baking in a wood oven, it is cut in the middle with an iron wire and the two sides are baked again. Because of this cooking process the two sides have a different look: one is porous and the other one is compact.
The frisella is an economic and poor food because it basically lacks anything. It is also fat free, which makes it incomparable to any other crackers or bread sticks and makes it perfect for diets. It is a time-resistant food being it a dry food. It can not go bad in fact it is already a dry bread and is, moreover, a good alternative to normal bread. According to tradition, the frisella made of durum wheat flour was a food for wealthy families while poorer people used to eat friselle made of barley wheat. Frisella today is a very popular food on the tables of Puglia in particular during the summer as it is a light and fresh food that goes well with the products of this region and typical of the season.
To enjoy it the best, soak it in cold water for a time that depends on individual taste and thickness of cooked dough (in the past people in Puglia used to douse the friselle directly in sea water and then add dressing). Then dress it with fresh tomatoes, oregano, salt and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. The frisella is a poor food but its flavor is incomparable.