postcard from Perugia: pinoccate
also called pinocchiate
A pinoccata (or pinocchiata) is a lozenge-shaped sweet made with zucchero e pinoli (sugar and pine nuts). Altrimenti detto (in other words), a pinoccata is pure indulgence. As you can see from the photo, pinoccate can be either white or brown (if cocoa powder is added to the two main ingredients). They are traditional Christmas sweets.
When I was a child, my father, responsible party for the Holiday sweets' shopping, would by some for my mother, who loves them. I would take just a bite and did not need more, because pinoccate are intensely, intoxicatingly sweet. You can chew your mouthful or, like me, you can let the sugar melt in your mouth to leave behind a small cluster of tasty toasted pine nuts, whose flavor slowly emerges as the sugar wears off from your taste buds.
Let me introduce you to one of the most important monuments of my home town: the Fontana Maggiore, a gorgeous fountain built in 1275-78 adorned with sculptures by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano (a father and son team).
The building you can see behind the fountain is the city hall, Palazzo dei Priori, the first portion of which was built between 1293 and 1297. The entrance to the building is around the left corner, on Corso Vannucci. Perugia is actually much older than all that: the Etruscans started building massive walls around the city in the 6th century BCE.
This is a closer view of the door to the Sala dei Notari (go inside if you happen to visit: it is a beautiful, stately room) over which stand guard the two symbols of the city, il grifo e il leone (the griffin and the lion). These are reproductions: the original bronzes are kept in a museum. My higher than ground level vintage point was achieved by walking up the steps on the side of the cattedrale di San Lorenzo: in truth, this cathedral is not particularly striking from the outside, though this should not prevent you from going inside, a highly recommended move. There is much more to see in Perugia, but I will stop here for today.
From the steps of the cattedrale I will make a couple of announcements regarding special events.
- Menu for Hope 4: Chez Pim's event in support of the UN World Food Program is on, and I invite you to visit her web site and read about how you can participate in this great initiative.
- FreeRice: Novel Food co-host Lisa has posted about this entertaining way of donating grains of rice to the same program. I am scoring quite well in the game: how about you?
- Food Blog Awards 2007: It's nomination time over at the Well Fed Network site, in 14 categories. Until the end of Wednesday, you can nominate blogs in some or all of them. Then it will be time to vote on the five blogs chosen among the ones nominated in each category.
- Weekend Herb Blogging: Kalyn's brainchild has reached edition number 112 and this week I have the high honor of being the host.
- Last, but not least, Aspettando Natale/Waiting for Christmas: Francesca is hosting this bi-lingual Holiday event that is expected to collect a great selection of recipes. I am working on a special creation for the occasion.