In the 1700s, the “merenda” was a real plaything, a tasty and worldly ritual in life at Court: from 2pm to 10pm, the aristocrats of discerning palates would sip cups of hot chocolate and eat traditional biscuits and new refined patisserie specialities invented specifically by the Palace chefs. Strictly for dunking are torcetti, confortini, canestrelli, savoiardi - Italy’s oldest biscuits! -, pazientini, amaretti, anisini, meringhe and baci di dama. And, to finish, a taste of almond nougat and a crispy diablottino, the forerunner of all chocolates.
In the 1800s Torino had by now earned a reputation of “capital of taste” and was full of cafés and patisseries visited by those of the newly emerging class - the bourgeois - but also by members of Royalty who were not averse to leaving the palace to drink a “bicerin” based on coffee, milk cream and chocolate, always together with a “bagnato” sweet biscuit i.e. for dunking. Among the many specialities of the new century there were chifel (deriving from Viennese croissants), foré, the biciolan of Vercelli, brioss made of short pastry, the crumbly parisien. The “Risorgimento” ushered in a fashion for the garibaldin, a simple slice of buttered bread, and for the Garibaldi, of shortbread biscuit containing raisins and apricot jam, created in England in honour of the “hero of the two Worlds”. The latter half of the century saw the arrival of the noaset - “nocciolini” - of Chivasso, gianduiotti, and cri-cri. The bicerin became a delicious habit after morning mass and this meant that, for the first time in the history of social customs, respectable women could enter a public place unaccompanied!
The Merenda Reale® is available every weekend - without booking - in the following cafes: Caffè Elena, Caffè Reale, Caffè San Carlo, Caffetteria Castello di Rivoli, Gelateria Pepino dal 1884, Torrefazione Moderna (closed on Sunday).