Sugar, It’s Everywhere !
I knew I’d see gelato all over the place. Trattorias and pizzerias left and right. I was told about the carnival masks I’d be confronted with too, in every size and color. And forget about “I love Venice” souvenirs – there’s no shortage of those either. But I can’t believe no one ever told me about the omnipresence of… torrone ! That soft, chewy, white as snow confection, also known as nougat. Yes, roughly 80% sugar and dotted with almonds, hazelnuts and/or pistachios. It’s everywhere in Venice, and I could not have been more happy about that. Not only nougat, but sugar in all different forms. A true sweet tooth heaven. Who knew?!
Meringues of all sizes, some as large as footballs. Or little ones sandwiched together with chocolate, like the photo, top right. And licorice. But I don’t mean little licorice Nibs, thin Twizzlers, nor Haribo swirls. We’re talking 93 centimeters (3 feet!) of black licorice rope. Or foot long fruit licorice with a sugary fondant filling, “mega stuffed” as its Italian name says. Better yet, neverending strands of fluffy marshmallow, for just one Euro. Believe it or not, I saw this all over town.
But back to that torrone… You’ll see it in neat, rectangular bars. In slices as if cut from a big round of cheese. In mounds, chunks and balls. Rolled up with chocolate. Sprinkled with candied fruits. Mixed with coffee beans. Available in every flavor you can imagine. And in just about every window you pass in your winding travels around Venice. You’ll see it, front and center in the windows of pastry shops and candy stores, but also in those of bars and cafés. The signs all showed the price to be around 3 or 4 Euros. But beware – that’s for 100 grams. And those slices of nougat can be heavy! My first purchase (of many) brought me to the counter with 3 small slices, individually wrapped in plastic – plain, coffee and chocolate. When it came to over 30 Euros, my eyes bolted out of their sockets. Sticker shock when you expect to pay less than 10 for what amounts to… sugar. Consider yourselves warned.
I am sorry I don’t have more photos of the nougat itself to share. It’s a sticky business to eat, and would have wreaked havoc on my camera. Furthermore, the last of my torrone (that brought my suitcase to a risky weight) is sadly all gone. So you know what that means: time to grab the candy thermometer and start working on a recipe to make some torrone of my own! I’ll let you know when I’ve got it just right!