Why Ordering Biscotti In Italy May Be Confusing To Americans

Whether it's bucatini pasta or Calabrian pizza or any of the other amazing culinary inventions Italians have graced us with, no one has ever gone away from an Italian meal hungry. Except, obviously, for more Italian food. If there is one thing Italians might be better at making than pasta, it's cookies. Cookies are present at any Italian celebration or gathering, per SF Gate, and boy, do they make a lot of them.

Italian biscotti seem to occupy a special place in the American imagination. The cookie we all know as biscotti are the long, half-crispy half-chewy, sticks you find at cafés, which are designed to be dipped in coffee. Dubbed "the cookie of the 90s", when they became all the rage on the café scene, biscotti have remained a popular snack that can be found nationwide, according to NPR. However, over in Italy, ordering a biscotto can get a little confusing. Depending on where in Italy you are, you might end up with a different kind of cookie than you were expecting. That's because biscotti can refer to more than one type of cookie along the boot. 

Be a specific as possible

Ordering a biscotti in Italy is similar to ordering coffee — you've got to know the lingo. For instance, if you walk up to an Italian barista and request a "latte," they will hand you a glass of milk. Order a caffé latte, on the other hand, and will get you the milky coffee drink you were looking for (via Devour Tours). Understanding specificities in Italy is key when it comes to biscotti, as the Italians make several different kinds of cookies that go by the name. 

According to NPR, biscotti is derived from the Latin word biscotus, which means twice-baked. It's being twice-baked, first as one mass and then as individual cookies, that give biscotti their trademark snap. Various regions throughout Italy have their own variations of these crispy little cookies. According to Taste Atlas, one of the most popular is the Amaretti. Multiple regions, such as Lombardy, Sicily, Piedmont, and Emilia-Romagna, have local versions of this beloved almond/apricot cookie. Other types of biscotti include the lemon and cinnamon biscotti alla cannella, the sesame seed-covered biscotti regina, and the fave dei morti (beans of the dead) cookies made around Halloween. If this all sounds confusing, take heart. It's easy to research online to discover which biscotti is the local one. It'll give you a leg up when ordering your twice-baked sweets.