This is the last this year of a series of articles with the title “Barga at night” – the hidden side of Barga that people generally don’t see. The idea is to follow and document people who are working while most of us are sound asleep in our beds.
We finish the series on a sweet note following Paolo Lucchesi making some traditional fare ready for Christmas – Torrone and Panforte, down at the Pasticceria Lucchesi in Barga Giardino.
Panforte is a traditional Italian dessert containing fruits and nuts, and resembling fruitcake or Lebkuchen. It may date back to 13th century Siena, in Italy’s Tuscany region.
Documents from 1205 show that Panforte was paid to the monks and nuns of a local monastery as a tax or tithe which was due on the seventh of February that year. Literally, Panforte means “strong bread” which refers to the spicy flavour. The original name of Panforte was “panpepato” (pepper bread), due to the strong pepper used in the cake. There are references to the Crusaders carrying Panforte, a durable confection, with them on their quests, and to the use of panforte in surviving sieges.
According to legend, Torrone – nougat was born in Cremona in 1441, during the sumptuous banquet which followed the marriage between Francesco Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti. The latter brought the town of Cremona with her as a dowry.
The bride and groom were offered a sweet made with honey, almonds and egg white, in the shape of Torrazzo, the thirteenth century tower which still today stands alongside the town’s cathedral, and from which the Italian word for nougat, Torrone, would seem to take its name.
Click on the link below to hear a short interview with Paolo Lucchesi as he talks about how he makes his Torrone and Panforte and the future for pastry and sweet makers in Italy (in Italiano)
painter and photographer - started barganews.com, the first on line news site in Tuscany, Italy back in 1996