It’s one of the viral songs of the summer: “Chocolate caramel, soak me like this, like a showcase pionono, roll me up like this, with powdered sugar, sweeten me. And you are my king, how cute you are, you are my baby, my little baby Fiu Fiu, (How beautiful you are, you are my baby, my little baby fiu fiu)”.
During the last weeks, this topic has spread like wildfire through social networks. It is a parody song that covers the famous ‘Stan’ by Eminem with the singer Dido. The producer Tito Silva has made it an Internet success by putting as lyrics the private messages exchanged by the former Peruvian president Martín Vizcarra and another country politician with whom he was being unfaithful to his wife.
Putting aside the political and love scandal, most people have noticed one of those verses of the chorus. Specifically, the one that refers to a ‘pionono’, a term that has generated a great deal of debate. For those who do not know its meaning, the RAE explains that it is a “small sweet made with a sponge cake rolled up on itself and topped with a toasted cream” . However, there are many doubts about the true origin of this sweet. We clear them.
The true origin of the ‘pionono’
Most of the people who have intoned this catchy ‘mi baby fiu fiu’ are unaware that this ‘showcase pionono’ is a sweet created in Spain. It is considered that its architect was Ceferino Isla , a pastry chef descended from the Isla family, originally from Rincón de Isla, in the province of Cantabria, some of whose members came down during the Reconquest to liberate the city of Seville, where they ended up settling.
In the 19th century, exactly in the year 1897, Ceferino Isla created a small pastry shop on Calle Real in the Granada municipality of Santa Fe. The man never imagined that more than a century later, his name and his candy shop would endure over time to the present day. And it was in that place, where the Casa Ysla pastry shop is located today , that Ceferino popularized a dessert that he had discovered some years before, when he was working as an apprentice in another bakery. That was where he discovered the formula for that pionono that would end up being a success.
A sweet to honor the Pope
Ceferino, who was very devoted to the Virgin, wanted to pay homage to the Pope who in 1858 had proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. His name was Pius IX and he was the last Pope King, the Pope under whose pontificate the Papal States became part of the new Italy that emerged with reunification. Thus, these states were reduced to the minimum expression: the current Vatican City. Ceferino decided in this way to give the sweet that he had created the name of this pontiff, Pio IX, in Italian Pio Nono.
The pastry chef was not only inspired by its name but also decided to give the sweet an appearance reminiscent of the papal figure: cylindrical in shape and somewhat plump, covered with a white sloop, that basket where the moistened sponge cake is deposited. Finally, it is crowned with a sugared and toasted cream with which he wanted to symbolize the skullcap with which the Pope covers his head.
In 1916, the Duke of San Pedro de Galatino invited King Alfonso XIII to his estate in Láchar, in the Vega de Granada, where he decided to give him some piononos for a snack. The monarch was impressed by the delicious taste of this still unprecedented dessert for him and decided to present Casa Ysla with the title of official supplier of the Royal House. This condition is what justifies the fact that the coat of arms of the pastry shop is signed with the royal crown, the one with five points. This sign and the coat of arms had to be removed from the balcony of the confectionery later, during the arrival of the Second Republic in our country.
The ingredients of the ‘pionono’
This is its story, but… what are its ingredients? To make good piononos, you need a dozen egg yolks, twelve egg whites, half a liter of milk, a glass of rum, a lemon peel, 400 grams of starch, 500 grams of sugar, four eggs and a little of cinnamon
As you can see, piononos are a very high-calorie product, so they should be consumed with caution. As for the egg, although it has a bad reputation for being a source of cholesterol, it actually performs a very important job in brain function and memory and contains proteins that improve vision and visual health. Undoubtedly, it is a sweet that has had and continues to have historical consequences for Granada and Andalusian confectionery.