The tradition of offering fava beans during the days consecrated to the dead is set far in the ancient times. This superstition has come to our days trasforming the original bean into a biscuit.
The ancient Romans used to offer sacrifices to avoid any persecution or haunting from the bad spirits during the Parentalia festival dedicated to the deceased relatives and organised banquets in the family tombs, offering opium, honey, lentils, eggs and not missing the fava beans, considered as the house of the dead. Another holiday called Lemuria days the Romans offered in a peculiar rite black fava beans to the ghosts of the wandering dead to placate their thirst of blood and violence.
This symbolism was kept even in the following centuries: for example until recent times there was the tradition of preparing a soup of fava beans the night of Nov. 2nd (catholic commemoration of the dead) and leave a dish on the table for the night visit of a deceased relative.
Of this old pagan rural traditions nowadays we keep memory with macaroon-like cookies, popular from the north to south of Italy, there are many variations to the recipe. Sometimes made with just almonds, or with the addition of pine nuts, with just stiffly-beaten egg whites (which make for softer biscotti) or flavoured with lemon zest, candied fruit or spices.
Recipee for November Fava shaped cookies (Fave dei morti)
Blanched almonds 200 gr, pastry flour 100 gr , sugar 100 gr , egg 1, butter 30 gr, lemon skin, a hint of salt
Roughly ground the almonds then put in a mixer. Pay attention when using the mixer, the blades must not get hot otherwise the heat will take out the oil from the almonds, changing their taste. Add sugar.
Work with flour, egg, grated lemon skin and liquid butter until it gets homogenic.
Then create small balls that can also be shaped as a fava bean (5-6 cm long).
Put in the oven at 180* (celsius) and cook for 12-15 minutes.
To pair with Vin Santo