Be it a cream filled Cannoli or an almond flavored Bruttiboni, a slice of Christmas Panettone or a fluffy Sfogliatella – it is very difficult to resist temptation and say “No, thank you!” to an Italian pastry. These baked treats are as intrinsic to the Italian food culture as pizzas or pastas. From breakfast to dinner and to sweet midnight cravings, Italians have a pastry for every time of the day and occasion! Enjoying an Italian pastry is like falling neck-deep in love – the more you love these delicious treats, the more they will love you back! And Italian patisseries are to be blamed for setting this love affair in motion!
Every region in Italy has its own pastry specialty, with the spectrum of flavors as diverse as the country itself! Italian pastries are not overwhelmingly sweet. From slightly sweet to modestly tangy and from mildly salty and to zesty bitter, the range of flavors is extensive and truly sensational – and most Italian patisseries offer a broad assortment of choices for every kind of taste and craving.
You might not have a sweet tooth, but strolling down an Italian strada (Italian for street), I bet you’ll be lured to enter a caffè-bar or a ‘pasticceria’ (Italian for ‘patisserie’) and try out one of the many delicious treats we have on display. And once you do, you’ll understand the true meaning of ‘La Dolce Vita’!
History & Cultural Significance of Italian Pastries
Did you know that the sweet Sfogliatella was invented ‘by accident’ in the 17th century by a nun in a monastery in Salerno? In those times, nuns used to bake these highly labor-intensive pastries to sell to the public and support themselves. During Christmas, they made Struffoli and presented them to aristocrats as a mark of thankfulness for their generosity in supporting their convents. These fried balls of sweet dough infused with a citrus zest and soaked in warm honey are still relished by Italians all around the world. During the Middle Ages, Sicilian nuns sold cream filled, tube shaped Cannoli during the annual ‘Carnevale’. The cylindrical shape of these pastries, which was very similar to the phallic symbol, represented fertility. While most of these confectioneries were made by austere nuns and generally had a pious connotation, one of the most ‘sensational’ pastry that the nuns of Catania ever made was the Minni Di Virgini – a breast shaped sugar glazed cake topped with a cherry. Made to honor the martyrdom of Saint Agastha, these pastries are popular even today and are eaten on February 5, when the locals celebrate their sacred saint. Over the centuries, most of the confectioneries run by nuns either closed or were passed on to bakers. Modern Italian patisseries probably owe their origin to those 17th century barred convent windows from which the general public bought delectable pastries, without ever catching a glimpse of a chaste nun’s face!
Modern Italian Patisseries
The charm and refinement of Italian culture extend to its pastries too! Italy is home to some of the world’s best patisseries as it hosting some of the world’s best Chefs. Besides being highly profitable, patisseries are potentially risk and recession-free business ventures in the competitive Italian foodservice industry. The daily demand for fresh Italian pastries is constant throughout the year. Can we say that: “What a baguette is to the French, an artisan pastry is to us?”. Do you know that these incredibly delicious food items are also excellent snack options between major meals and can be enjoyed on-the-go, anytime – anywhere?
With major bakeries and restaurant brands venturing into the lucrative Italian patisserie business and opening exclusive confectionery stores across the country, enjoying a pastry is not just an ‘everyday affair anymore’ but a ‘trendy’ thing to do in Italy. Want to try? So the next time you are in Italy, make it a point to visit a few local Italian patisseries for the treat of your lifetime. The warm and rich aroma whisking out of a Patisserie kitchen and wafting gently in the air is sure to arouse your senses…and appetite!
And if you are a pastry chef or an entrepreneur, who wants to venture into the exciting and delicious world of pastries with your very own Italian patisserie, contact us at DESITA to transform your dreams into reality with our attractive, profitable and eco-friendly shop concept design solutions!