Have you ever walked down a city street, seen some new bakery or treat shop and been drawn in by the pretty food in the window? Of course, most of us have. We get into the mood of the city life where one goes into a shop and buys this gorgeous looking little pastry like the page out of some urban chick lit novel where you walk down the sidewalk on a bright spring afternoon eating that delicious little treat just as you round the corner and crash face to chest with the suited man of your dreams who just at that moment happens to be in jogging gear and thus begins the biggest drama your life will ever know.
But it isn’t delicious. You buy that calorie laden little piece of tiramisu and it tastes like oily ash in your mouth and the face you make causes little old grandmas to cackle at your misfortune and small babies to cry from the pure negative energy you are now projecting into the universe because it feels like you just paid to eat shit. And when you look up you see your Mr. Suit crashing into someone prettier with an obviously lower IQ than you across the street (where you would have been if you weren’t still standing there making that weird face and running your tongue across your palate trying to scrap off that oily film that you know tiramisu should NOT leave behind).
This is all a romaticized version of a tiramisu experience I had last weekend in Chicago, where my family was for my brother’s big National Competition for Irish Dancers. I love Chicago but I really have to wonder about a city that allows tiramisu like this to exist within it’s city limits.
Back in college I got to spend some time in Italy during a winter break. Of course I had to pay penance for my extravagant lifestyle there by working in a Romanian orphanage for an equal amount of time (a stipulation made by my parents) but when I think about the whole experience it was just worth it. My roommate at the time and I were staying in Rome for a few days with a friend of my aunt, a super sweet lady with two little boys who tried to teach us how to count in Italian. When we told her that after living on the streets eating bread and cheese to save money (not a bad way to live in most of Europe, actually) we wanted to use all those saved up funds to go out one night and do it all. We wanted every course possible and we wanted it with wine followed by coffee in the plaza. The works. She told us that in Rome, unless you’re in some sort of tourist joint, you can pretty much never go wrong because if I place isn’t good the locals will pretty much shut it down.
I only wish American tastebuds were cultured enough to know when to shut something down. Junk food and comfort foods aside, think about it. We often put up with sub-par food from fancy restaurants. I took someone out to the Queen Mary out in Long Beach last year for dinner and paid quite a lot for a salmon that could, at the most, be dubbed “OK”. How is that acceptable?
Of course, I know, I’m a picky person. If I’m giving you $50 for my food I expect my food to taste like you spent $45 on it (I’m happy to pay a small amount of overhead as long as its reasonable). The company that night on the QM was great, the atmosphere was all right, but the food… the food was a disappointment.
Back to that street corner somewhere on the border betwen the Greek and Italian sectors of DC I realized that the tiramisu from Costco tastes like fluffy yumminess from heaven compared to what I was eating and I think that’s a problem. I had a friend from Austria who made a tiramisu without coffee, liquer, or ladies fingers and it still tasted amazing. I tried making ladies fingers before and boy was that a bitch and a half. Had to change the entire dessert course for my senior Honors’ Project to be pound cake based and when compared to light and fluffy tiramisu pound cake seems like a bit of a downer.
So here are some recipes I’ve found for Tiramisu that I feel the need to try now: