Nonna’s tasty treat: Tar­alli

How to put the crunch in this Ital­ian snack

Orlando Sentinel - - COOKING & EATING - By Joe Gray

T| hou­sands and thou­sands (tens of thou­sands? mil­lions?) of non­nas can’t be wrong. They’re the ones rolling and shap­ing tar­alli, in their cute lit­tle kitchens in Puglia (or Si­cily or Napoli or …). With quick, deft move­ments they work, talk­ing about how easy they are to make. How good they taste. How they’re the per­fect bite with a cold glass of white wine. How they’re so tra­di­tional.

How grand­moth­ers used to make them too. Just look for the non­nas on YouTube. You’ll see.

OK, so, not only non­nas make tar­alli. (That’s Ital­ian grand­moth­ers. And, yes, I know the proper plu­ral would be nonne, but who says it that way over here?) Of course not. But they’re the ones, usu­ally, who pass the tra­di­tions to the rest of us. And they’re right.

Tar­alli are a crispy ring­shaped Ital­ian snack, made of flour, olive oil, salt, wa­ter and not much else. (But fen­nel or anise seed and black pep­per are of­ten used, to very good ef­fect.) You’ve maybe seen them bun­dled up in cel­lo­phane bags and tucked in among other snacks at an Ital­ian gro­cery. They’re akin to a crisp bread­stick in tex­ture, but not quite that. They’re hard to de­scribe to the unini­ti­ated. They’re not a cracker. Not a bis­cuit, us­ing the Bri­tish mean­ing, though they’re some­times called that, be­cause they’re usu­ally twice cooked (the root mean­ing of that word).

I see them in non-Ital­ian gro­ceries more of­ten these days, but not so much that peo­ple re­ally know them. When you put them out at a party, they’ll ex­claim with cu­rios­ity, then, af­ter tast­ing them, with joy. Which is why you should make them, whether you have a nonna or not. The store­bought, usu­ally im­ported, ver­sions are quite good. But they’re so much bet­ter freshly made.

ZBIG­NIEW BZ­DAK/CHICAGO TRI­BUNE PHOTOS; SHAN­NON KIN­SELLA/FOOD STYLING

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