Panzerotti: A truly Italian delicacy, or is it?

What is one of the most exciting parts of travel plans for you? For me it’s trying the food of the cities I travel to. I want to know what people eat and drink in a city I’m visiting for the first time and what that city is famous for. To achieve this, I do a little research beforehand and know what to eat while exploring the cities.

Sometimes, when I get home, I try to prepare the delicacies I’ve tasted while traveling. Panzerotti, which I ate in Milan, is one of them. Of course, I can’t try to make the dish at home, but panzerotti is very similar to Turkish “pişi” – a fried dough or bagel. For this reason, I thought that the preparation would not be difficult.

In Türkiye, pişi is made by frying bread dough in oil and is generally eaten for breakfast. I also think Panzerotti are a type of Italian bagel.

In my opinion, every local dish or famous dish has a story. The story I made up about the Panzerotti doesn’t really begin here. It’s based on pizza and ice cream.

“Why do you say that? Well, when we think of Italy, the first things that come to mind are pizza and ice cream.

So, how tasty do you think the ice cream and pizzas you eat in Italy are?

Just between us, I didn’t like the ice cream and pizzas that I’ve eaten in many cities in Italy. Apart from the Neapolitan pizza which we ate in Naples. They weren’t bad, but if I make a comparison, I can say that I liked the pizza and ice cream I’ve eaten in the Balkans better.

Especially the taste of the pizzas I ate in the city of Struga in Macedonia is still on my palate, and of course the ice creams too.

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In particular, I can never forget the taste of the ice cream I ate in Serbia.

In many places where we ate ice cream in the Balkans, it was said that ice cream came to the Balkans from Italy. Of course, after eating such delicious pizza and ice cream in the Balkans, some question marks popped up in my head.

I wonder if ice cream and pizza actually made their way to Italy from the Balkans? Or could this recipe have changed depending on tastes on the way from Italy to the Balkans? If so, it’s a welcome change.

So, actually the situation is like this: if we look at the map, everyone can see that there must have been an interaction between the regions since Italy and the Balkans have land and sea connections.

And indeed, in my own way, I found an answer to the question in my head.

I don’t know if you paid attention to the signs in places where ice cream is sold in Türkiye, but on signs that say “Roman ice cream” you must also have come across the words “Balkan Kardeşler (siblings)”. “Balkan Ice Cream”, up, down or somewhere there. I thought maybe that’s not a coincidence.

You may ask me what all these questions in my head and these thoughts have to do with Panzerotti.

I thought, is it the same with Panzerotti, an Italian dish? I’ve never tasted Panzerotti in the Balkans; I didn’t even look for it. In fact, I ate the best I could really eat in Italy. However, after the pizza and ice cream story, I thought the Panzerotti story might be very different.

When we first ate Panzerotti in Italy, my husband’s reaction brought such a story to life. My husband’s first sentence as soon as we entered the store where we ordered Panzerotti was: “This fragrance took me back to my childhood.” When I say my husband is a Macedonian immigrant I think you can connect the dots.

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That day we realized that this dish, which my husband’s mother has been making under a different name for years, could be Panzerotti.

In other words, it was a taste that was also made by Albanians and Balkan immigrants. It was made with different names like Pişi or Puff. Today, the Pişi made in Türkiye is very similar to Panzerotti.

The main problem is that, as in the history of pizza and ice cream, was there an interaction with the panzerotti too?

Did Panzerotti go from Italy to the Balkans? Did you go from the Balkans to Italy?

Maybe there is no such story and it’s just something I created in my head.

I think you may be wondering about his taste after talking about it so much. So, here’s the recipe if you want to try it:

First we open the yeast by mixing it with a glass of warm water and sugar.

We add five glasses of flour, two teaspoons of salt and a quarter of a teaspoon of oil.

By the way, if you search for this recipe on the internet, you will not find many recipes. I couldn’t find this recipe online either. This particular recipe that takes my husband back to his childhood came from her mother. We mix and knead the ingredients I mentioned.

We add four more glasses of water to the mixture, apart from the one glass of water that we put in for fermentation.

After kneading well, we cover the dough and let it rest.

Now it’s time to prepare the internal ingredients.

For the filling we grate some tomatoes and chop some of them into small pieces. When I ate it in Milan, it had an intense tomato flavor. To get this taste, we not only grate the tomatoes, but also cut them into small pieces and add them.

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We lightly boil the tomatoes prepared in this way. You can also add fresh basil to the sauce, it looks amazing. Of course, mozzarella should not be missing from this dough. You can color the ingredients as you like. You can also add salami if you like. In Italy, they even add fish to their filling.

After waiting 30 minutes, our dough reaches its full consistency and rises. In this case, you need to press the dough a little and take out the air inside.

Then we form balls out of the dough the size of a coffee cup. We flour the dough so that it does not stick to the place where we roll it, and with the help of a rolling pin we roll the dough.

First we add a spoonful of tomato sauce to the dough.

However, we should not put the tomato sauce in the dough and leave it that way, but apply it thoroughly. After adding the mozzarella cheese, we close the dough. With the help of a fork we shape and seal the whole dough. Then we cook the dough in hot oil.

Then we like to eat. Of course, that wonderful smell that surrounds the house is reminiscent of her childhood.

We don’t know where this flavor that led my husband to his childhood came from, but I always enjoy reminiscing about it. I wish that our pleasant breakfast tables, sitting around and listening to the stories he tells, would never end.

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