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  • Writer's pictureStefania Gioia

Carmelina: the Queen of Venetian Biscuits

Updated: Jul 6, 2018

“Flour, egg yolks, butter, milk, vanilla, rum, lemon zest: there are no secrets about the bussolai recipe, as long as ingredients are genuine” Carmelina Palmisano doesn’t have much time, as she’s greeting at the lab a group of students that came to Burano specifically to visit her historical pastry shop. She’s actually been very busy all life long, losing her mother when she was still a child and starting to work in the family’s workshop at the early age of 8.

Shortbread cookies belong to a long-standing Venetian tradition and, according to their shape, they have different names and stories. The popular bussolai, whose name derives from the compass (bussola, in Italian), are donut shaped cookies invented by Carmelina’s grandfather on Burano island about a century ago. Healthy, nutritious and dry enough, according to the legend they were hung on the boats through a rope during the fishing trips.

At that time not many people could rely on a domestic oven and, typically throughout Easter time, used to prepare the dough at home and bring it to the Palmisano bakery in order to have it cooked. Back then, in all Burano there were just three ovens.

Nowadays the bakery, that specializes in several cookie varieties, is very well known and appreciated not only by Venetians, but by all visitors who are really interested in discovering the island’s culinary tradition.

Spirit of sacrifice and enthusiasm throughout many years of work made Carmelina a strong manager, as well as a warm-hearted, cheerful person who couldn’t be happier to proudly show her products. Graciously placed on many shelves, there are Venetian essi, whose shape reminds the Grand Canal course; zaletti, whose name refers to the corn’s yellow color, bricole, from the lagoon’s wooden poles, caorline, named after the typical boats, dogi, peverini, sbreghette and limoncini, along with a selection of products for diabetics and coeliacs.

With the help of her family, Carmelina was able to enlarge the production with a bigger, modern lab right out of Venice, that allows the products to be distributed to gourmet shops and hotels in Italy and abroad, while keeping the usual high-quality standards.

Have a Glass in Venice is proud to include this delicious stop into its gastronomic tours off the beaten path through the magic lagoon.

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