Without a word of a lie, had Pinocchio lived in Spain he would have eaten Piononos. Religiously so.
But it was not named after the boy with the nose that extends when he fibs. That story was just a myth put about by some liars – relatives of Pinocchio no doubt.
For piononos are small pastries named after a 19th century Pope called Pio Nono. They are shaped liked papal clothing.
In my experience it will not take you long to eat one. Bite sized pastries that will leave you wanting more. And more!
They hail from the town of Santa Fe, now a sprawling town located within earshot of the airport at Granada.
Santa Fe is also famous for being the place where the last Nasrid King of Spain, Boabdil, handed over the keys for the city of Granada to the conquering Christians. This notable moment in Spanish history is commemorated, rather incongruously, by a plaque at a petrol station!
Back to a different kind of fuel. The fast food that are piononos. Speedy in the sense that they are consumed so quickly.
It is a snack of two halves. Firstly a cylinder shaped roll of pastry with syrup that ensures the pionono has a sweet taste. Then it is topped off with toasted cream.
They are made with egg whites, sugar, milk, lemon rind, cinnamon and – my personal favourite ingredient – rum. You will find variations on that theme in the town of Santa Fe where certain cooks will claim to have their own secret recipe.
In the 19th century it was three widowed sisters from the bakery “La Blanquita” who rediscovered the original recipe and decided to name it “Papa Pío Noveno”, giving it a Papal headgear, mitre like shape.
The bakers of Santa Fe are rightly very proud of their creations. In the big city of Granada itself you will find certain shops and cafes specialise in the pionono.
For example, Rey Fernando on the historic street of Reyes Catolicos is a favourite cafe with many locals, as is La Isla on Acera del Darro, just beside the Hotel Carmen.
You can buy bigger versions of the pionono, roughly the size of a small apple, or the smaller model. You can have them nicely wrapped in a box and take away to savour at home. Mine rarely last that long.
But Granadinos would take them home for the traditional “merienda” or high tea at around 5pm. This is when such Spanish snacks are most often consumed alongside the almost mandatory cup of coffee.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And when in Spain, eat as the locals do.
And when Rome and Spain meet, you have the pionono.
Food fit for a Pope. Or a boy made of wood who cannot help but tell lies.
As for how many piononos you should eat in one day well, as that would be boy himself would have sung: “let your conscience be your guide.”