Nonna’s tasty treat: Taralli
How to put the crunch in this Italian snack
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.