People all over the world regard Italian food as some of the most intricate and tastiest food around. Italian cooking today uses ancient knowledge combined with modern cooking techniques to utilize the natural flavors of foods known to be delicacies, as well as foods once known to be povertous. At many restaurants, even ones that don’t exclusively serve Italian food, it’s common to find well known Italian dishes on the menu such as tiramisu, cannoli, and biscotti. There are many Italian treats that are eaten all over the world quite commonly, but aren’t known to the general population. If you ever get the chance to try any of these traditional Italian treats, I urge you to let your taste buds discover why Italy and Sicily produce some of the tastiest food in the world.
Chestnut and other nut based flours were long known to be used by families in poverty or who were lower middle class, because other flours were either too far for them or much too expensive. Over the centuries, foods cooked with these nutty flours as bases are more common and very popular with those of high class and prestigious tastes, making the menu on only the most authentic and upscale Italian eateries. Panpepato is a familiar and tasty Italian treat, roughly translated to “peppered bread”. It is called this because of it’s appearance, and because black pepper is used in the recipe. The bread is made originally from chestnut and hazelnut flours combined with sliced almonds, cinnamon, cocoa, and of course, black pepper. The result is a clustery topped bread type cake that’s a mixture of warm nutty flavors and bittersweet peppered chocolate.
Castagnaccio is another Italian favorite, originating in Tuscany and made with nut flours as well. This bread often is quite flat but round and puffy, and sometimes has chunks of chestnuts inside. Olive oil and rosemary are also used in the recipe, as well as a decent amount of salt, giving this treat a taste that’s wholly acquired. This “cake” is often topped with cinnamon or a nutmeg mixture, and I often find it sold at Italian specialty bakeries with shaved chocolate on top.
Another not so famous Italian treat is the Chiacchiere, sweet little fritter like treats that are served on special occasions. These are made with eggs, flour, and wine, and sometimes a bit of pepper depending on the variety of Chiacchiere you’re getting and the region it comes from. Some are frosted, some look more like biscuits, but they all use the same basic recipe. These are nice treats because, as most authentic Italian food is, it’s made from ingredients that are all natural and with a recipe that is quite old.
If you ever spot one of these delicious treats, be sure to give it a try! You can always find recipes for these authentic treats online or at your local store in the cook book section.