My first full year in Milan, I was surprised in early April to see a large basket in my local bakery filled with a bed of straw and a pile of white chicken eggs. I wanted to buy some, to remind me of home and perhaps to dye some for Spring. I’d moved from a white-egg United States (I’m sure this is changing here and there) to a strictly brown-egg Italy, and these pure white orbs, even though I prefer the idea of brown shells for some inexplicable reason, struck my heart.
I asked the white-capped woman behind the counter how much they cost, and she said 4,000 lire (roughly 2 euros) each. Stunned, I asked why, to which she replied, “Because they’re made by hand of high quality dark chocolate, molded, glazed and dusted with sugar.” After a short pause in which I stood dumbly, staring in shock at the beautifully deceptive eggs, she added, “Next week, I’ll have a delivery of colored ones.” I went back the following week, and bought four: pink, yellow, mint green and robin’s egg blue.
Milan is simply blooming in a pastel explosion of Easter eggs. Everywhere you turn, Caffarel, Venchi and Lindt eggs—milk chocolate, dark chocolate, with or without crushed hazelnuts, with or without gifts inside—fill the windows of pasticcerie, bakeries and bars. Tiny, medium-sized, large and enormous, wrapped in foil, patterned paper, silk, and voile—they are indulgences to be sure, but they are no match for the exquisitely humble impostors that disappear from bakery baskets almost as soon as they appear. Obviously, I’m not the only one who knows how pleasurable it is to crack them open with an assertive whack, watch the glaze crack off in tiny fragments like a real egg shell, then bite into the dense resistant chocolate.
[If you’re partial to chocolate, you might also enjoy “A new (old) love for the chocolate lover,” in which I discover il cioccolato di Modica.]