Golossary: Coccoli

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Crispy outside, tender inside, bursts of salt, a slick of the fingers, soft pockets of air-filled Italian fried dough.

Coccoli were once eaten plain as a common Florentine street snack from friggitoria (fried food stands). Now they are found on menus as an appetizer served with sliced salty Tuscan prosciutto and tangy, spreadable stracchino cheese. They are hearty, filling, warm and when done well, addictive. A platter makes for great party food, and they are perfect with beer. But they are perfect anytime. Grab one, tear it open, smear it with tangy cheese, and top with a strip of prosciutto – this is what bar food should be!

Coccoli take on many other names and shapes in different regions of Tuscany: like Donzelle along the western coast – but Donzelle are often oblong as opposed to round, and the ones I’ve had are denser.

Recommended: buy them by the kilo at the Chicco di Grano bakery in Mercato Sant’Ambrogio or visit Mosto Dolce for fill yourself coccoli with stracchino and prosciutto.

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