FLORENCE, Italy- The lightly glazed flakes of the croissant gathered on my lap, impossible to sweep up because with every touch they broke into smaller pieces of sweetness. My fingers were impaired by the smears of gooey chocolate that clung to them. Even after I wiped the rich layer from my hands, a sticky consistency remained.
Just getting the chocolate croissant to my mouth was a hassle, but once I took a bite, the pastry became harmonious flavors and textures on my tongue. The flakiness of the crumbling croissant combined with the smoothness of the melted chocolate, it swirled with richness and left my lips sticky with a chap stick of sugar and so worth the mess.
According to legend, the croissant originated after a failed invasion into Vienna by the Turks in 1683. The Turks attempted to dig a tunnel into the Austrian city but underestimated those who could hear their stealthily work. Viennese bakers awake and prepping their kitchens for the busy day ahead, heard the commotion and alerted the authorities. As a way to celebrate the prevention of the invasion, the Viennese bakers created a pastry shaped like a crescent, similar to the shape on the Turkish flag. This way, the Viennese could actually eat the Turkish symbol as a display of victory and dominance.
There are a few more legends of how the folded layers of buttery pastry came to be, but nothing can be confirmed. Whatever the case, the pastry croissant has become well known as a part of French breakfast cuisine, and even took on a French name. But much as the French want to claim the best croissants, croissants in Italy should not be overlooked.
I really don’t mind how croissant came to be as long as I find it on my plate. The Turks tried to invade, the Viennese supposedly created the croissant, and the French perfected it. But the Italians provide me with one warm, chocolate delicacy every morning, and nothing can top that.