Tracing The History Of The Cannoli, The Italian Pastry That Was Actually Arabic
Updated : August 09, 2021 12:08 IST
Let’s look into the origins of this classic Italian luxury dessert, Cannoli.
Cannoli might seem like your average Italian pastries, but they are so much more. Imagine a tube of delicious dough within which lays a stuffing of cream but not just any cream filling, mio caro but true Sicilian ricotta. Crispy and flaky, the modern version of the Cannoli is covered on its ends with chocolate chips and later garnished with generous amounts of powdered sugar.
It is described as crispy and flaky with luscious cream which is just the right amount of sweet and finally dotted by chocolate chips.
If you ask any Italian, they’ll probably say that you’ll only find real cannoli in the depths of southern Italy. But is this heavenly dish even Italian?
The word cannoli is derived from the word 'cannalo' meaning “little tube”. Back in the day, the Cannoli was no bigger than the size of finger “cannulicchi”, though today an average cannoli may be as big as the palm itself. The history of the cannoli can be traced back to Arab rule in the island of Sicily which was then called the Emirate of Sicily.
There are two tales behind its origin. It was either made by concubines to impress their prince who at that time ruled the region. The pastry was cylindrical and was filled with ricotta, honey, and almonds. The other takes place in a convent, where it was developed by nuns to celebrate a festival called Carnevale.
Though the origins are debated, it’s believed that it was in fact made sometime between 827 and 1091 AD.
The variations in cannolis existed even then but it wasn’t till the 20th century that cannoli had greater reach and even greater variations. Immigrant Italians in America during the early 1900s made adaptations to the original cannoli concept due to the limited availability of certain ingredients, and as such modern cannoli has quite a few changes.
True Arabic cannolis may be impossible to find but Sicilaian Cannoilis are making their mark across the world.