May 092011
 


Having devoted some time to the questions of gianduia’s origins, we now turn to its composition.  Though recipes have varied over the years according to the cost and availability of ingredients, the earliest gianduiotti consisted of three principal ingredients: sugar, cacao, and roasted hazelnuts (1).

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Mar 142011
 

To this point, we’ve discussed the pre-history of gianduia up to the 1850s.  Now, let’s step back and look at the origin of Gianduia, the commedia dell’arte mask and namesake of gianduia and gianduiotti.  The traditional origin story of Gianduia, the mask, begins with two puppeteers, Giambattista Sales and Gioachino Bellone (1).

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Feb 212011
 

In the early decades of the nineteenth century, before the Waldenses could safely descend from their valleys, chocolate production in Turin was dominated by immigrants from Canton Ticino in Italian Switzerland—particularly from alpine villages in the Blenio valley.  For over a century, harsh winters in the Alps, coupled with a predominately agricultural economy, encouraged seasonal migration for work at lower elevations, including in the population centers of northern Italy (1).  Bleniese migrants often took work in the cities as peddlers, chestnut roasters, and, most importantly, cacao grinders.

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Feb 142011
 

Unlike the development of a beet sugar industry, Napoleon’s second contribution to gianduia’s invention was not an outgrowth of the Continental System.  In fact, the policy predated the Berlin Decree by more than a decade.  In the closing years of the eighteenth century, Napoleon extended unprecedented civil rights to the Waldenses in Piedmont.

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Feb 072011
 

Though gianduia was not invented in direct and contemporary response to the Continental System, Napoleon implemented two policies that would have a deep and long-lasting impact on Piedmontese confectionery.

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