The word pizzelle means, loosely, “small, flat, and round” in Italian. These waffle-type cookies are made by pouring batter between the two plates of an iron, which is then held over a fire or heated electrically.
Pizzelle were first made in the south-central area of Abruzzo (now the Region of Abruzzo) in the 8th century. Two small towns each claim to have originated the treat, which are featured in their yearly festivals:
- The citizens of Salle, in the Province of Pescara, celebrate the festival of Beato Roberto every July. Celebrants walk down the street carrying branches on which pizzelle are hung as an offering.
- In Cocullo, in the Province of L’Aquila, the celebrants eat pizzelle during the festival of their patron saint, Domenico. They cover his statue in snakes and carry it around the town.
These days, pizzelle can be found at almost any celebration in the Abruzzo region and across Italy. It is a rare Italian wedding that does not serve pizzelle at the sweets table. These cookies are closely associated with family; in fact, pizzelle irons have been fashioned with the pattern of a family’s crest. Pizzelle are also popular in countries with large Italian populations, such as Canada, the U.S.A., and Australia.