I've had quite a few conversations with French people that go like this:
French person: I went to Italy during the month of August and it was wonderful!
Me: Oh yeah, where did you go?
FP: I rented out a gîte (house in the countryside) in Tuscany. We rented a car and took a few trips around the countryside and also saw Florence and Siena.
Me: So tell me what you liked in particular.
FP: Well, the Italians are so gregarious and sociable. I have a few Italian friends that showed me around a bit.
Inevitably the conversation turns to food...
FP: We ate really well and enjoyed the classic dishes as well as trying the regional specialities. But I have to say, the desserts were terrible!
Me: Really? Why?
FP: They were so dry and tasteless. Our friend's mother made a cake and it was horrible. Everything else she made was delicious, though! The Italians just don't know how to make desserts. They really need some pointers from us. How can a country that prides itself on its great cuisine have such bad desserts?
Well... if this doesn't blow you away, I don't know what will.
I'm here to say that, on the contrary, there are some very good desserts in Italy besides tiramisù and panna cotta (which are ubiquitous in Italian restaurants throughout France).
Sometimes all you have to do it get away and go south...
(I'm not saying that there are no good desserts in the north because there are, of course!)
Of course the following desserts are found all over Italy as well, but anytime I have tried them outside of Sicily, they haven't tasted as good (I'm not a snob, I promise!).
|Sicilian cookies. Author of photo: Den Nation.|
|A Sicilian croissant. Author of photo: Den Nation.|
This particular croissant is not like the French croissant. It is filled with crema pasticera. Crema pasticera is kind of like custard, but the taste is really so different that you can't compare. Again, I've tried croissants in other parts of Italy, but they just don't compare to these ones. The cream is just that good. So good, that I've convinced my Frenchie that this "foreign" croissant is worthy of his attention. Ha!
|Cannoli. Author of photo: Den Nation.|
Growing up in Canada, cannoli were a treat for special occasions. I absolutely loved eating these as a child and thought that nothing could ever top these.
Until I tried them in Sicily.
|Close-up shot of cannoli. Author of photo: Den Nation.|
The taste was much more pronounced - it's all in the cheese I'm afraid. The texture is different, it's more paste-like and the cheese, dare I say, tastes more "animal" and milky and is less sweet than the cheese in the ones I ate in Canada.
I tried one in Canada a few years ago after having lived in Europe a few years. I was so shocked, I couldn't believe that I once thought they were the best cannoli on earth.
I did eat one in London (England), however, that came pretty close to the real thing.
This is only scratching the surface. There is also granita, which I think deserves its own post.
I think I need to go back to Sicily...