David Downie: Gallette, Italian Riviera Sea Biscuits

Published by Tuesday, September 27, 2011 Permalink 0

by David Downie

gallette del marinaio, sea biscuits, panificio maccarini

Everyone knows about the focaccia of Genoa and the Italian Riviera. But who remembers the region’s hardtack?

Sea biscuits: those hard, dry crackers that sailors would take with them on long journeys, because normal bread got moldy within days?
In Italian, sea biscuits are called “gallette.” The same word is used for the surf-worn, flattened stones you find on beaches. That’s because sea biscuits look very much like those stones, with pock marks.

There used to be hundreds of bakeries up and down the coast of Italy, and in America too, that baked sea biscuits. Now only a handful continue the tradition, most of them in Liguria, and only one makes gallette in the old-fashioned way, meaning the way they were made in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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