Breadsticks or grissini is a staple in many restaurants and a favorite snack in many households. They first made an appearance in the 14th century BCE in Turin, Italy. Breadsticks are hard, crunchy, pencil-shaped sticks who are similar to crackers and would last for a long time. The art of mastering in making the breadsticks was to bake them to the desired level of crispy-ness without burning them.
Legends say that in the year 1675, when the young duke, Vittorio Amedeo II of the house of Savoy, was 9, he was quite under the weather. He had been weak since his birth and he often suffered from many intestinal disorders that hindered his ability to eat. Hence, it delayed his physical development. At her wits end, her mother assigned the court physician a task to come up with a remedy so that her son could eat.
The physician found that the ill boy had consumed a stale bread which was polluted by pathogenic intestinal germs and hence, the food poisoning. As per the tale, the physician had suffered from the same disorders when he was young, and he was cured by his mother’s bread which was well-baked, well-crisped with a little crumb.
The physician then approached a baker and made him bake breadsticks. The duke recovered instantly, his health improved and became a king in 1713. From that day, the crispy grissini was the favorite bread in the Savoy household, which is how it became famous and loved by all the aristocrats and royalty of the age.
Another Alternative History of Breadsticks
The legends also had another story to narrate for the same. In the year, 1643, 32 years ago, a Florentine abbot found a bizarre type of bread in a town outside Turin. The shape of the bread was as long as an arm and thin as dead bones, and delicious too. If we look at the history further back, there is also a reference to a special kind of bread called pane barotellatus, meaning stick.
Nowadays, Torino Italian breadsticks are available in many varieties, from super crispy, thin or larger ones served with spaghetti and to mop up excess sauce. Unlike the typical grissini, modern breadsticks are spiced up with herbs and a lot more. It can be eaten as an appetizer with tossed salads, pasta, pizza etc.