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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tiramisu, the Italian Fast Food Pick-Me-Up

Guest Blogger: Lisa Zatulovsky
copyright 2011 Art of Living, PrimaMedia,Inc

Fast food joints are at practically every intersection splattered across America, satisfying those unbelievable cravings within minutes. Sometimes it’s too difficult to resist a cheeseburger, fries and milk shake and all of their addicting greasiness. After a long stressful day’s work, occasional pick-me-ups can be the perfect cure to get through the day. Americans aren’t the only ones with their go-to indulgences or love of fast food. Italians have pick-me-ups of their own, an addicting delight loaded with caffeine and : Tiramisu, a dessert staple for Italian cuisine, which is literally translated into “pick me up” in English.
Traditionally Tiramisu is a chilled dessert with alternate layers of cake, and cream. Basic Tiramisu consists of ladyfingers soaked in rum and/or espresso, ultra creamy mascarpone cheese and shavings of dark chocolate sprinkled with cocoa. The moistness of the coffee-soaked cake along with the richness of the whipped custard makes for a rich yet light treat. All ingredients, delicious on their own, create a mouth-watering dessert when paired together. Tiramisu has found its way into many homes and bakeries with countless variations. Some may choose to add raspberries, almonds or hazelnut cream while others cut the sugar by replacing the ladyfingers with fruit, or by substituting the mascarpone for low-fat cream cheese. Whether in its original form or not, Tiramisu can morph into a tailor-made treat that satisfies a sweet tooth, or a friendlier waist-watching version, which may be why it has become such a widely embraced dessert.
The history of Tiramisu is somewhat of a mystery. Some argue that the dessert is actually of Greek origin, and it is served in many Greek restaurants as well as Italian. Others believe that a similar custard creation, which may have inspired the modern-day dessert, was created in the 17th century in Siena, Italy. Others suggest that Tiramisu is a fairly young dessert, which was recorded in cookbooks in the 1980s. However, one of the most common beliefs is affirmed by food critic and author Giuseppe Maffioli, who reviewed the restaurant Le Beccherie, in Treviso, Italy. In 1981 Maffioli wrote an article saying:

“Tiramisu’ was born recently, just 10 years ago in the town of Treviso. It was proposed for the first time in the restaurant Le Beccherie. The dessert and its name became immediately extremely popular, and this cake and the name were copied by many restaurants first in Treviso then all around Italy.”

It wasn’t long before the dessert found its way to America. Tiramisu became popular in the San Francisco area. Places like “Café Tiramisu” create authentic Italian cuisine much like “Le Beccherie.” Now over the course of a debatable 40 years, according to Maffioli, the dessert can be found in just about any cookbook, or Italian or Greek restaurant, and the irresistible flavors have breathed new life into traditional pastries or other sweets like cupcakes, ice cream or even Tiramisu- flavored popsicles.
Maybe the next time you find yourself needing a well-deserved pick-me-up, instead of ordering from your favorite fast food restaurant, go to your local café, order a steaming hot cappuccino and a generous piece of Tiramisu, and take time out of your day to enjoy a little pick-me-up, the Italian way.

Find recipes for Tiramisu and other Italian delights at The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati tm

Get your copy of the GOuramnd World Cookbook Award Winning book: The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd edition

1 comment:

Karissa M. said...

I was drooling while reading this article. The history was really interesting; I had no idea that Tiramisu is seen as a fast-food item.