The best-known Italian breakfast is undoubtedly cappuccino and croissant, but if you ask Italians what they eat at home for breakfast, I’m sure most of them will answer milk and biscuits.
The milk, whether from animal or vegetable sources, can be white (especially for children) or “macchiato” with more or less coffee, and sometimes there can be no milk at all but is replaced by an espresso coffee or a cup of tea. The only thing that’s always present is biscuits, maybe just one to quickly soak in the cup before going to work, or more than one soaked in milk for an energetic breakfast before a school day.
It was actually only around the 1950s that the consumption of biscuits for breakfast in Italy became established. In previous years it was customary to consume stale bread or even polenta dipped in milk, while many adults did not eat breakfast at all since it was considered a necessary meal only for children.
Did you know that:
The term biscuit derives from the Latin panis biscoctus, which means bread baked twice. Already known in ancient times, they were therefore very likely simple slices of bread baked again to which, probably in Roman times, honey and fruit were added.
It is not known exactly what the origin of the biscuit is, but it is certainly linked to bread and it is well known that it was highly appreciated for its crunchiness and for its ability to last for a long time.
The most beautiful story on the origin of the biscuit is linked to the myth of the Argonauts. In fact, it is said that the cook who prepared the supplies of bread for shipping fell asleep during cooking. The bread, which had been in the oven too long, became thin and crunchy. Jason decided to embark it anyway and so they discovered that the biscoctus bread lasted longer and was excellent to soak in wine. It is probably for this reason that the Romans also called the biscuit panis nauticus, which means sailor’s bread.
Dry biscuits were therefore an alternative breakfast especially for children, because they were more appreciated than bread and easier to eat. In the 70’s the confectionery industries began to offer new products richer in flavour, small pastry jewels within the reach of all budgets. In a decade, biscuits established themselves as the main product of the Italian breakfast.
Breakfast biscuits are characterised by a lower intake of fats and sugars than other pastries, and provide the right amount of carbohydrates to face the day. Milk proteins and a fruit or freshly squeezed orange juice are the perfect way to start the day with a smile.
With honey or chocolate chips, without sugar, with wholemeal flour or enriched with dried fruit: there are biscuits for all tastes and they arrive on the breakfast table in large boxes or bags, where it’s nice to dip your hand and fish for the biscuit to soak, always with the same promise: “this is the last one!”.
When Violetta moved to London with her family and started shopping at the supermarket, she was really surprised that she couldn’t find “breakfast biscuits“. Mind you, in England there are many sweets available and as many biscuits, but what is missing is the variety of Italian biscuits and especially those “family” packages to which Violetta was used.
For this reason, in the early days, Violetta used to order boxes of biscuits from Italian food suppliers, but most of all she used to force visiting friends and relatives to carry stock of “Macine”, “Gocciole” and “Abbracci”.
It is therefore to solve this problem that she dedicated herself to finding the perfect recipe for breakfast biscuits, and after several attempts she developed the recipe for spelt flour biscuits with chocolate chips, which put the whole family in agreement for the incredible flavour, lightness and consistency, perfect for munching but also for soaking.