Venice is very dear to my heart and I love the way they hold to their cultural and culinary traditions.
The co-existence of different traditions and cultures has led to a hodgepodge of the classic Venetian biscuits with the richer and more elaborate delicacies of the Swiss and Austrian pastry makings. The use of spices is an Arabic influence and Hebrew baking has also played a part.
Venice is famous for her biscuits. They are not a dainty affair as, tradition goes, they were taken to sea to be eaten by sailors on long voyages.
They are usually served along with a glass of sweet wine. Moreover, only during the Carnival period, ‘Frittelle’ and ‘Galani’ will be found in the most famous pastry shops in town – they are very tasty, and, like cherries, you will probably want to eat one after the other !
The most famous is the “Biscotti Baicoli”. Created in the 1700’s, the word “baicoli” is Venetian dialect for sea bass. In fact, their oval, thin, long shape is very similar to the sea bass which inhabit the lagoon. At that time, bakers supplied them to coffee shops, or they were served to house guests along with zabaglione cream, hot chocolate or tea. Still others served them with a sweet Doge’s desert wine, the Venetian Moscato dei Doge.
The “Bussola Buranello” comes from Burano, the fisherman’s island, famous for it’s rows of brightly colored houses. “Bussola Buranello” means the compass of Burano, all part of the marine traditions which date back centuries. Baked in a shape like a backwards “s” or an outline of a circle, this cookie was a typical Easter treat, kneaded at home by the women of Burano, and then brought to the baker’s for baking. On feast days, it was dipped in holy wine “vin santo”, or in a local white wine.
The same dough can be given the form of an ess, thus getting a biscuit which is simply perfect for mogiar (“dunking” in Venetian)!
Zaeti are typical Venetian small biscuits made of maize flour and raisins. Their name is due to the colour which characterises them, a strong yellow: since zàlo, in Venetian, means “yellow”, here you have the reason why these biscuits have such a weird name.