Hi, today we want to talk to you about a typical dessert of Catania, which is usually eaten during All Souls’ Day, since tradition has it that all the children who have been good during the year receive sweets and gifts from the morticini on 2 November. The morticini are the Faithful Departed. But you can find this dessert almost everywhere (bars, bakeries, pastry shops, supermarkets) as early as the second half of October. And they are now also selling it in other cities and not just in Catania. We are talking about the Rame di Napoli (Copper of Naples). From Naples, but are they from Catania? Let’s try to understand.
What are the Rame di Napoli?
They are exquisite and soft cocoa biscuits covered with dark chocolate icing and pistachio grains. We are making your mouth water, aren’t we? 🙂 In the past, people used pastry scraps to prepare them: cakes, biscuits, sponge cake etc. However, since it was difficult to obtain these ingredients, they were little by little substituted for flour, butter, sugar, bitter cocoa, honey, cloves, cinnamon, jam, and grated orange zest. But pastry chefs continue to make changes to the recipe, so you may find Rame di Napoli hiding a delicious layer of orange marmalade or Nutella under the chocolate glaze. Or, another version is that of the Rame di Napoli with pistachio cream filling.
But let’s go back to the initial question, namely the origin of the name Rame di Napoli.
There are three theories on this.
According to the first theory, which is also the least credible, the creation of this dessert is due to a pastry chef from Catania named Napoli. Napoli is a popular surname in Sicily, but how to explain the word Rame?
The second theory links the birth of these biscuits to the Bourbon period. Legend has it that, when Sicily passed under the Bourbon rule, some pastry chefs from Catania wanted to pay homage to the new ruler by preparing the Rame di Napoli for the occasion. Therefore it was an act of vassalage.
The third and most accredited theory is linked to the period of Bourbon domination, too. With the annexation of the Kingdom of Sicily to the Kingdom of Naples, King Charles III of Bourbon decided to mint a new copper alloy coin. Its value was lower than the gold and silver coins that were already in circulation. Some inhabitants of the Kingdom, then, began to be ironic and to say that soon they would use biscuits instead of coins. Thus it was that some pastry chefs from Catania decided to reproduce, in the form of dessert, the new copper (Rame) coins introduced by the king of Naples (di Napoli) covered with pistachio grains, to reproduce the oxidation of copper.
In any case, whatever the origin of their name is, the Rame di Napoli are an essential dessert during the autumn season. 🍂
Do you know these biscuits? Do you have any memories related to them?
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