La Napolitan, the Spanish dessert you don't expect

by Federico Quagliuolo

If in Spain you ask the baker to prepare a "Neapolitan" (or "Neapolitan", Or"Neapolitan pan“, Since in some places also known as masculine), you will most likely be surprised to find that it will bring you a bizarre sweet halfway between pangocciole and strudel. Or, in some areas of the Iberian Peninsula, you can taste a salty dish look and taste very similar to our Parisian.

The reason behind this enormous variety of products that takes the name of Naples, however, no one knows for sure.

Pan Napolitano Chocolate
The "Pan Napoliano" of chocolate (Copyright, Recetas de Isabel)

Bread, chocolate and the bakers of Naples

The origin of the "napolitanas“, Among the many theories that circulate, it could be linked precisely to the historic Neapolitan confectionery and bread-making tradition. In fact, even in Spain the bakers from the capital of the Viceroyalty were highly esteemed.

The recipe is quite simple: it is a puff pastry polished with a brushstroke of egg which, after being cooked, is filled with custard, chocolate or apple custard.

So, a bit like what happened to hazelnuts, which from the city of Avella have become in Spanish the "avellanas, so the dessert probably took on the name of "Neapolitans”To indicate the origin of the bakers who produced it.

Paradoxically, in Italy the dessert is recognizable with the French name of "Pain Au Chocolat". Which was invented in 1830 by a Austrian pastry chef in Paris. The local bakers then transformed the recipe into pangocciole, in the saccottino and in other baked goods filled with chocolate.

Then there is another theory that is linked to the first historical document in which the "napolitanos”Were mentioned. It is a vulgar and satirical poem of the 16th century, the Carajicomedia, which in chapter 34 speaks of a "very well known and very large Neapolitan". The verse probably refers to Isabella I of Castile, the queen of the Reconquista and the discovery of the Americas, who also assumed the title of Queen of Naples.

A strange casatiello or a Parisian?

In the world of napolitanas salty, the Spanish fantasy takes over.

Neapolitan tortano bread
A "Neapolitan bread" very similar to tortano (copyright:

Some Iberian bakeries call in fact "Neapolitan bread" i sandwiches stuffed with cold cuts and diced cheese, looking similar to ours casatiello, but from the recipe identical to that of Neapolitan sandwiches (recipe). So far, in short, there is no objection.

La Napolitan, the Spanish dessert you don't expect
Another form of Pan Napolitano, this time similar to the Parisian

The products that will surprise Neapolitan eyes, on the other hand, are the "Neapolitan pan”With tomato, cheese and ham. Basically our Parisians, but with the shape of croissants (recipe).

Here too, speaking of names, there is a reference to France, but it is not a French product: the "Parisian“, In fact, it is a rustic typical of the Neapolitan cuisine made in the nineteenth century by a court chef, with puff pastry of French origin. One of the many theories on the origin of the name links it to the distortion of "p '' to riggina“, As this cottage was particularly loved by Queen Maria Carolina.

-Federico Quagliuolo
-Thanks to Giuseppe D'Angelo of Dixit pizza for suggesting this story to us!

Curiosities (in Spanish):

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