In Italy, we’re quick to say biscuits! In reality, this term represents a very general category of dry pastries. If you go into a pastry shop and ask, “Could I get some biscuits?”, the shop clerk’s answer will be very simple: “What kind?”. Our tradition, aside from those produced industrially, boasts countless types of biscuits, characteristic of each town and city. The choice ranges from Modica’s breaded biscuits, ‘mpanatigghi, to zuccherini, the sugary biscuits of mountain areas, typical of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. Practically speaking, each town has its own biscuit.
And at Christmas?
We have biscuits for every occasion and event: from breakfast, to tea and snacks, as well as those for great occasions and parties such as Lenten and Christmas biscuits. Then, in addition to these are all those that are the product of housewives’ creativity. I think that to tell you about all of them, you would need more space than the whole Encyclopedia Britannica. Instead, I’ll limit myself to the main traditional Christmas biscuits.
Baicoli – Veneto
The classic traditional Venetian biscuits, sold in typical tin boxes.
Bicciolaro – Piedmont
This is a spicy biscuit, typical of Vercelli.
Christmas Calciuni – Molise
A sort of sweet ravioli, filled with dried fruit and dark chocolate
Cartellate – Puglia
Made with evo oil, white wine, sweet vinegar made of figs or grapes and flour.
‘mpanatigghi – Sicily
Breaded biscuits, filled with almonds, walnuts, chocolate, cinnamon, pork, cloves and sugar. They are typical of Modica.
Mustaccioli – Campania
Typical of Naples, made with dried fruit, honey and dark chocolate.
Ricciarelli – Tuscany
These are some of the most famous Christmas biscuits. They are made with marzipan, citrus and cinnamon. Sometimes they are covered in chocolate.
Roccocò – Campania
Made with hazelnuts and almonds. They have the shape of a shell and are very hard.
Susamielli – Campania
S-shaped biscuits, made with honey in the dough.
Spitzbuben – South Tyrol
Originally from Germany, but now also typical to South Tyrol. This is the classic Santa Claus-shaped biscuit.
Turdilli – Calabria
Made with fig honey.
Tradition is banned
For those who want to break ties with tradition, the panorama is wider and richer. In recent years, Italian trends for the Christmas holidays primarily include an ingredient that is found everywhere, more than parsley: ginger. There are no fusion or traditional Christmas recipes, but modern revisited versions of recipes that have no ginger as a main ingredient. As for ginger and biscuits…