‘Grissini’ together with the bread are present in all the Italian meals across the country but especially, in Turin, there is no lunch or dinner where these bread-sticks are not on all the tables of homes and restaurants of the city.
The term ‘grissino’ derives from the Piedmontese dialect, particularly, from the word ‘ghërsa’ which represented a long-shaped bread typical from this region. The origins of this bread-stick are linked to the history of the House of Savoy. According to the legend, a Court’s baker named Antonio Brunero invented the famous ‘grissini’ by following recommendations from the doctor of Vittorio Amedeo II in 1679 since little Vittorio could not digest the soft part inside regular bread. Therefore, Brunero created a more crunchy version of regular bread.
The production process of those ‘grissini’ was not easy at all. Four employees, each of them precise and definite job, were needed to prepare these sticks: first, the ‘Stiror’ who spread out the dough, second, the ‘Tajor’ who cut the dough into pieces of 3 centimetres, then, a ‘Coureur’ who put all the pieces in the oven, and finally the ‘Gavor’ who took off the sticks from the oven and cut them.
Their success regards the sticks’ digestibility and its facility for preservation since ‘grissini’, unlike bread, can last for many days.
Among the ‘grissini fans’ there was Re Carlo Felice who loved to crunch them even while attending Teatro Regio. Napoleon Bonaparte also adored this product to the point that he created a transport service from Turin to the French capital city for bringing him what he called ‘Les petits bâtons de Turin’ (Turin little sticks). The most traditional shape of these bread-sticks is the ‘robatà’ (pronounced ‘rubatà’) which means ‘rolled’, they are about 40 to 80 centimeters long and recognised by their knottiness due to the handmade production.
In recent years, the spread ‘grissini’ gained popularity. In contrast, with ‘rubatà’ they are crumbly and the dough is not rolled but extended. Nowadays, different types of ‘grissni’ can be found: with sesame, Kamut, chilli pepper, olives, fennel, nuts and also prepared with wholemeal flour. Besides, they can be sweet by adding chocolate or caramel. In any way, these popular bread-sticks are part of the Piedmontese tradition, not only appreciated in Italy but also internationally.
It could be defined as a little piece of bread that represents the style, creativity, and delicacies of the House of Savoy.