Sunday, March 25, 2012
The World’s Original Breadstick
The breadstick was created in the 14th century in Northern Italy by a baker from the district of Piedmont, famous for its truffles, as well as its Barolos and Barbarescos. The Piedmontese bread stick (called a grissini) is the Rolls Royce and Bentley (or should I say Maserati and Ferrari?) of all breadsticks.
It was not until the 1960’s that grissini became an everyday treat in Piedmont. Made by hand, they were often reserved for special occasions such as a gift for a hostess, or a present for a mother after the birth of a child. Napoleon was even charmed by grissini, sending them back to Paris with instructions for the French bakers to re-produce them.
Grissini are the first things you see at the table when you walk in to a ristorante in the Piedmont area. They’re at least 2 feet long and they’re placed down the middle of the table as an edible center-piece. Forget store-purchased grissini…the only way to go is with one that has been made that day, either by the ristorante or the local baker. Don’t even consider touching those that are not made by hand.
Today, you’ll find grissini made throughout Italy with everything from sesame seeds to rosemary. The best, however, in my opinion are the ones simply from olive oil, flour, yeast, salt and a little water. The better the olive oil, the more flavorful the grissini.
If you’re coming with us on the Truffle Tour in early October, you’ll see them being made in our visit to a famous bakery.