Cookies of Friuli-Venezia Giulia
With the exception of Trieste’s Viennese-style cakes and pastries and the Slovene-inspired spiral cake gubana, one does not typically associate the cuisine of Friuli-Venezia Giulia with desserts. Rather, it’s the foods of poverty such as hearty grains, cured meats, and vegetables with a long shelf life that are thought of as most characteristic. However, if you take the time to explore the region, you will discover that there are plenty of cakes, tarts, and cookies to be found as well. The following are three distinct cookies that I feature in Flavors of Friuli: A Culinary Journey through Northeastern Italy.
Esse di Raveo
These crisp, S-shaped cookies were created in 1920 by baker Emilio Bonanni in the Carnian town of Raveo. While the original esse di Raveo is now distributed throughout Friuli, many bakeries produce similar cookies. They are prepared with a simple sugar cookie dough flavored with vanilla.
These sweet bites were most likely named after the Slovenian dumplings called “štruklji.” Their origin dates back to the 15th century, when Martino da Como, chef for the patriarch of Aquileia, documented a recipe for fritters filled with dried fruit and nuts. Historians believe these were a precursor to modern strucchi as well as gubana. While strucchi are sometimes baked, the fried version shown here is more traditional.
Fave dei Morti
Translated literally as “beans of the dead,” fave dei morti are typically prepared during the months of October and November to celebrate All Saints’ Day. While variations are found in regions throughout Italy, these almond cookies are especially popular in Trieste. Flavorings may vary somewhat depending on the bakery. The recipe given to me by Pasticceria Penso flavors the brown cookies with cocoa and rum, the pink ones with rose oil, and the white ones with Maraschino liqueur.
Recipes for all three of these cookies can be found in my cookbook Flavors of Friuli: A Culinary Journey through Northeastern Italy.