Posted by Abbey School CiaoItaly - Torino.
Web site: www.ciaoitaly-turin.com
Giandujotto,Bicerin… there are many specialities that make Turin “terribly delicious”. As you stroll through the streets of this “little Paris” you cannot help but try the hot chocolate, cakes, pastries and other genuine delicacies whose recipes have been passed on from generation to generation.
An international symbol of Torinese and Piedmontese pralines, the Giandujotto is a chocolate with a classic clove shape and “hand-cut” with “daggers”. Made with milk chocolate and the “Tonda Genitle”, a typical hazelnut from the Langhe area of Italy, it was born at the beginning of the 1800s thanks to the testing of some new equipment that – mixing cocoa, vanilla, water and sugar – allowed the chocolate to be transformed into solid little bars. It was the first chocolate to be paper-wrapped, and it was named after Gianduja, the legendary Commedia d’Arte character typically representing Turin. It was subsequently put onto the market in 1865 especially for the Carnival season.
Picture by Aros Comunicazione
Giacometta, a Torinese speciality which takes its name from Gianduja’s girlfriend, is a cream made with toasted hazelnuts, cocoa or dark chocolate, sugar, vanilla and milk. A lighter coloured version can be found, made with white chocolate or just milk, and it is also available in two contrasting shades of dark and light.
Chocolate is also a leading player in another two typically Torinese specialities: the Bicerine and the Marocchino.
The first, which can boast enthusiastic endorsements from the likes of Alexandre Dumas, Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway, who included it in the hundred things that he would save from this world, is a hot drink which is served in a bicerin (small glass in Piedmontese dialect), from which it takes its name.
Obtained from a secret recipe, it is the result of a unique blend of cocoa, coffee and whole milk, prepared on the spot and whose proportions can vary according to personal taste. For an excellent bicerin, the selection of the ingredients and the processing of the cocoa are the two most important stages. The coffee and full cream milk are still prepared according to traditional methods, and the ingredients are mixed while hot and then left to stand for a few minutes before serving.
Also known as Bicerin ‘d Cavour, referring to the fact the Subalpine Statesman, a leading force behind Italian unification and first President of the Council of the Kingdom of Italy, was particularly fond of the drink, it was of great comfort during cold winters and was said to help ease mental strain.
Coffee, a sprinkling of sweet cocoa , frothy milk and a little more cocoa: this is the recipe for a Marocchino, a hot drink served exclusively in Turin. When you order one, remember to ask for a “Marocchino”, and not a “caffè marocchino”, since this derives from the famous Bicerin.
Born with the advent of modern coffee machines, it is not merely a small cappuccino with added cocoa, but a sweet, elaborate and creamy drink whose name derives from Marocco, a type of leather used as a hair band which was very fashionable in the 1930s. It was a light brown colour, just like the drink.
A legend, on the other hand, accounts for the origins of one of the most popular creams of Torinese and Piedmontese tradition, one which can either be drunk or eaten with a spoon: Zabaione or Zabaglione (’L Sanbajon).
It is said that Brother Pasquale de Baylon (1540-1592) of the Third Order of Franciscans, who was in Turin to perform evangelism, invented the cream by chance, combining eggs and sugar with Cypriot wine in order to improve the flavour.
The legend states that he recommended it to his more disconsolate female penitents during confessions, saying that it could give renewed strength and vigour to their spouses. These enthusiastic Torinese women are then said to have shared and recommended the recipe amongst themselves in order to benefit from the miracle of the Saint, whose name was immediately abbreviated in Torinese dialect to San Bajon (the o is pronounced u). Thus ‘L Sanbajon was born in Turin, and was subsequently Italianised to Zabaione or Zabaglione.
Canonised in 1680 by Pope Alexander VIII, San Pasquale de Baylon has been the Patron Saint of all the world’s cooks since 1722. His feast is on May 17th and he is venerated in Turin’s Church of Saint Thomas in Via Pietro Micca. His portrait hangs in the chancel of the Church of Monte dei Cappuccini in the same city.
Zabaione, the pride of Torinese pastries and a key ingredient in certain types of cream puff, has gone beyond the borders of the Savoy kingdom and over time has become famous throughout the world. In the 1950s, it gave rise in Italy to a number of well-known liqueurs such as Vov and Zabov.
Last but by no means least are the caramelle of Turin.
Not many people know that the word caramella is an exquisite Piedmontese gift to the Italian language (if the Tuscan dialect had prevailed, today we would say pasticca, from pasticceria, the Italian word for confectionery).
In olden times, cane sugar sticks were referred to in Latin as canna mellis, (or “honey stick”), from which the Spanish word caramel derives. The word was Italianised as caramella, and starting from the mid-nineteenth century it was in Turin that the sweet was first produced, and with the growth of the industry on a larger scale it became a product of mass consumption.
The multicoloured, flat and crumbly sugar pastels are typically Torinese, and are available in a wide range of flavours such as mint, vanilla, raspberry, carnation, ratafia and blackcurrant, obtained by cold mixing with icing sugar.
The lecca-lecca (lolly pop)is also from Turin: big, flat and round, supported by a stick and usually a hexagonal shape, it was once known as Gianduja in honour of the character that was depicted on its wrapper in order to announce the arrival of the Carnival period.
Still today, one says Caramelle di Torino to indicate a product deriving from a tradition in which several generations have shared.
Pictures from Aros Comunicazione