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Rice, Peas and Strawberries (Risi, Bisi e Fragoe)

Contributor: Lucia Fanton

Rice, Peas and Strawberries


In the 800’s Venetia, risi, bisi e fragoe (white, green and red), was the gastronomic equivalent of the cry, Viva Verdi, against the Austro-Ungarian Occupants. It came from VERDI, the name of the composer, but is also an acronym for Vittorio Emanuele Re d’Italia or Vittorio Emanuele (Savoia), King of Italy.

Here is a "limerick" from the times of our great-grandfathers:
risi, bisi e fragoe, erbette rave cotte, tempesta sue S’tare e piova al Redentor which means "Rice, peas and strawberries, stewed sweet turnips, storm on the Zattere and rain on the Redentore". Rains usually never miss the Redentore Holiday. The turnips are red and white, and the leaves are green, resembling the colors of the Italian Flag. Probably, the limerick wanted to hand down the memory of an independent rebellion that occurred in the Zattere area.

It is fairly probable that the same Risi e Bisi might be a dish from the Austro-Hungarian cuisine, like all courses that are based on sweet pumpkin, rice and potatoes, which are in fact observable in every Italic Historical Centres cookery that were subject to that Empire. Even before 1807, the risi e bisi seem to exist as a dish, from peasants of the islands, that was presented to the Doge.

300 g rice
300 g small peas
50 g cubed bacon (facultative)
wild strawberries (not too big)
1 pc chopped onion
50 g butter plus
1 pc nut
1 tbsp olive oil
1 L bouillon
parmesan cheese
chopped parsley


In a casserole, brown onion and bacon in oil and butter at low fire, until the onion starts to melt. Add the peas, and cook for a minute. Moisten with a glass of broth and add the parsley.

When the peas are cooked half way, about 15 minutes, add the remaining broth and bring to a boil. Add the rice and salt and start cooking continuously blending the course until the liquid is completely absorbed.

Remove from fire and cream the dish up with butter, parmesan and strawberries. Leave for a few minutes to rest in the dish and serve.

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