Cannoli are probably the most typical pastries of the Sicilian tradition. Establishing their origins precisely is not easy: we know they belong to a very distant past. Suffice it to say that it was the year 70 BC when in one of his writings, the famous Roman orator Marcus Tullius Cicero described a very similar dessert. So, let’s study the history of this delicious speciality.
The origin of the name ‘Cannolo’
Where does the name ‘cannolo’ come from? There are two hypotheses. The first one, the most credible, suggests that it comes from ‘canna’, the Italian for river cane: this was once used to roll the dough to make the ‘scorza’, also known as ‘buccia’ (peel). Nowadays, for hygiene reasons, canes have been replaced by special steel cylinders. They are probably healthier and more practical but much less ‘romantic’.
The second hypothesis derives from a legend. It is said that once upon a time, during the Carnival, some cream mysteriously came out from the tap of a fountain, whose Italian translation is called ‘canna’. In truth, it was just a joke, a little trick devised to make fun of a passer-by. Many think this is how the famous dessert got its name.
The history of Sicilian Cannoli
It’s very difficult to determine with precision the real origins of the delicious dessert known as ‘Cannolo’: that’s most probably because Sicily, the Italian island usually considered its birthplace, over the centuries was subjected to domination and to the cultural influence of many civilizations very different from each other. If on one hand this clearly represents a source of enrichment, on the other it causes great confusion. Here is one of the most interesting theories:
Cicero’s Cannoli: According to historians, something very similar to a Cannolo already existed in the Roman period. In 70 BC, in one of his literary works, the great orator Marcus Tullius Cicero mentioned: “tubus farinarius, dulcissimo, edulio ex lacte factus” (“A tube prepared with flour and stuffed with a very sweet filling made of milk”) These words prove that a ‘primordial’ form of this pastry could date back to the Classical Age.
Nowadays, Cannoli is popular all over the world. If you are in Melbourne, don't forget to try CANNOLETRIA for a great Cannoli-tasting experience!
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