Zaletti are one of Venice’s favorite biscotti. Made with the region’s favorite grain, corn polenta, and often served with a fruit sauce for dipping, you could call them Venice-in-a-cookie. My ever curious friend, James Beard award winning author, chef, and master baker Greg Patent was intrigued when I told him that I like to have them for breakfast alongside a cup of cappuccino. So he made them and wrote up the recipe with step-by-step photos for his terrific blog, The Baking Wizard, here.
Their name comes from the Venetian word for yellow, “zalo.” Ground corn, or polenta, substitutes for wheat throughout the Veneto and the neighboring regions of Lombardy and Friuli. These were dirt-poor areas that welcomed the crop in the 1600s when it was first introduced soon after the explorers brought it back from the New World. Polenta was the primary staple, often consisting of the entire meal, and it was also the basis for baked goods in households that could afford sugar. In Venice, street vendors peddled the cookies from pushcarts, or sold them from door to door.
These, along with other genuine foods and wines of Venice is what you can expect if you join me for a culinary tour from May 15-21, 2017, on board the Eolo, a fully restored historic sailing bragozzo, which plies the waters of the Venetian lagoon. If you’d like to see the Venice that most people never see, come with me! We still have a few spots left. Here are the details.