Gianduia

by Laura A

Every time I go to my cooking class, I pass by the window above and admire the sheer cleverness of these gianduia eggs.  Gianduia is a mixture of chocolate and hazelnut paste that was invented during the reign of Napoleon, at a time when chocolate was hard to come by.  Hazelnuts are plentiful in Piemonte, so someone had the idea of grinding them to a paste and mixing them with chocolate.  It tastes very similar to Nutella, which is also from Piemonte.  And this store, Gerla, apparently specializes in gianduia.

The top photo, from the same store, is of Carnival masks.  Carnival is next Tuesday. Truthfully, clowns give me the creeps, and these monkeys are a little creepy too, but maybe they’re supposed to be.  The one that caught my eye was the realistic mask that looks like a man’s face.

And it’s not entirely coincidental that a gianduia store would have Carnival masks.  Gianduia is also the name of a commedia dell’arte figure who is supposed to be a typical Piemontese.  He’s a man (usually wearing a tricorn hat) who gets along with all the ladies, though he has a girlfriend.  Maybe that’s why these masks give me the creeps!

At  €38 per kg., I found it easy enough to pass up the clever gianduia eggs. But I do have a box of gianduiotti, which are small gianduia candies (perhaps resembling a tricorn, or at least a bicorn, hat?) at home.  They’re yummy, but one of them is enough.

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