It's merenda time: 5 Most Popular Italian Snacks you'll love
One of the most important life lessons Italian children are taught is "never, never skip your merenda".
Merenda is part of our daily eating routine and for most of us is a word associated with the sweetest memories: how could you forget your grandma waiting for you outside school with a small pack of your favorite cookies? Or watching cartoon with your siblings while enjoying a few taralli?
There are two main reasons why you should never skip merenda. The first is pretty simple: no matter how old or how big you are - you'll never eat enough according to your Italian nonna or mamma. The second is that eating something at mid-afternoon will help to hold you over until dinner and therefore avoiding binge eating... that's why merenda is not just for kids and we have lot of Italian snacks we love and eat everyday!
Taralli are quite simple to make and require just a few ingredients: flour, salt, extra-virgin olive oil and a few drops of white wine. However, it is more and more common to find on-the-go bags of this delicious Italian snacks.
A traditional Italian recipe from Apulia, the "boot's heel" of Italy - taralli are by now famous all over the world, to the point that the New York Times cited them as "Italy’s answer to potato chips". What people love most about this Italian snack is without any doubt its pleasant crunchiness and the delicate yet flavorsome taste.
Although the recipe provide for only extra virgin olive oil, more and more tasty alternatives are available on the market: from hot chili pepper to fennel, from sesame to tomato and olives… without forgetting sweet taralli, with chocolate or coffee! You just need to choose your favorite one and... try to resist the temptation of the second packet. Try them in our 'O sole mio! Italian food basket
2) Lupini Beans
Lupini beans are the seeds of the Lupinus albus, a plant belonging to the Leguminous family and have been known in the Mediterranean since ancient times. While back in the 90s, Lupini beans were commonly found at village festivals or fairs across Italy, where they are sold in stalls, or served at cafe during aperitivo - they are nowadays more and more common as mid-afternoon snack.
Why are they becoming more and more famous? The answer is in their incredible nutritional values. With a protein content comparable to that of meat, and a plenty of nutrients such as zinc, copper, manganese, selenium and magnesium, Lupini beans are a real "superfood", perfect for athletes, vegetarian and for all those looking for healthy and tasty snacks.
Lupini are normally sold marinated and in brine, sometimes with the addition of salt or pepper. To exploit more and more their health benefits, however, bars and snacks containing Lupini beans are more and more common, often in combination with other healthy ingredients such as almonds or dried fruits.
3) Chocolate Bars
Do you have a sweet tooth? There's an Italian snack for you as well, of course! And this snacks couldn't but be chocolate bars. Indeed, although most of them are commonly found (and beloved) in the United States as well, they come from Italy - and the Langhe region to be precise.
Italians chocolate bars are usually filled with cream and nuts, since the Langhe region and the city of Alba especially really is the "city of hazelnuts", where they grow in abundance with an excellent and delicate taste, easy to peel and to preserve.
Of course, these are not an everyday option if you want to watch your weight - but more like an "exceptional" confort food. If you can't really give up with chocolate you can also go for a few bites of dark chocolates - a powerful and nutritious sweet reward. Wanna a secret tip? Eat a chunk of dark chocolates when you're feeling tired - better than coffee!
4) Cantucci, Savoiardi, Crisps and the other Cookies
If sometimes you feel like you deserve a sweet treats, put a few pack of Italian cookies in your pantry. As often happens with
Cantucci are the typical cookies of Tuscany: sweet but not sugary, twice baked and with almonds they are all about crunchiness. Ladyfinger are typical of Langhe area and are sponger and sweetier. The dry weather of southern coast is instead perfect for almonds and pistachio nuts that are used for many different cookies and crisps in Sicily. Canestrelli are butter daisy-shaped cookies commonly found in Liguria and served dusted with powdered sugar.
Although cookies are generally eaten for breakfast, some of them are simply perfect anytime for a sweet break: you can eat them along with a coffee or a sweet wine (have you ever heard about cantucci and vin santo?) but they are becoming more and more an handheld snack you can crunch wherever you are.
5) Italian Gelato
Some people will tell you "Gelato is a summer Italian snack!"… well, don't believe them. Whether in the hottest summer day or in the dead of winter, a good Gelato will always warm your heart.
Also, don't get confused with "ice cream" the American way. Italian gelato is pretty different and that's why so many tourists fall in love with this Italian street food: first of all, it has less butterfat - so it's softer and healthier. Then, it has no air nor water thus making it more flavorful in comparison with American ice-cream.
Artisanal gelato - the one you find in ice-cream parlor all over Italy - is sold in scoops, in cone or cups. In supermarket, however, you can find some delicious version of this Italian snack: from the chocolate covered sticks to different kind of cornetto. However, consider that this variety have more calories and sometimes preservatives, so if you want to keep it healthy go instead for the artisanal one - and prefer fruity taste!