Tuesday, February 15, 2005

You Always Remember Your First Time...Tiramisu and Me

The first time I ever heard of and tasted the dessert, Tiramisu, I was in a little place called The Blue Moon Cafe on West Fourth Avenue, which is long gone. The meal itself was adequate, but the dessert blew my mind. Really, love at first bite. I became infatuated, obsessed. The soft, creamy texture was so pleasing, almost erotic. It was light and airy, yet rich and dreamy. I never had a chance to go back to the restaurant before it closed, but I was, from that moment on, thrown into a quest to relive that experience. I tried tiramisu every time I saw it on a menu. I had people making me homemade tiramisu, or buy it from bakeries for me. I think I might have even tried making it once myself. I looked it up online. I raved about it. I explained what it was to whoever was around who hadn't heard of it before. But alas, it was never like I remembered it. After a couple of years, I gave up the quest, and chalked it all up to that experience being my first time. I decided that it may not be possible for any tiramisu to be as good as it is in my memory of my first time. I still enjoy it from time to time now, but that wee bit of disappointment each time was enough to get me to shy away from it for a while.

My tiramisu quest is a good example of how important the circumstances and conditions surrounding the consumption of food is to the enjoyment of food. And memory of food is important because an experience isn't really significant unless it impacts you enough to be a memory. I've had this discussion with a non-foodie friend of mine. He never really remembers what he eats the way I do, so food really isn't that important to him. Whereas one of my oldest (foodie) friends, and I reminisce repeatedly about meals we've had together, even the ones years and years ago.

I found out during my quest that I'm not the only one who has fallen hard for Tiramisu. Here's just one example of a website from a fan - Tiramisu, Heaven in your Mouth. It's an interesting thing to see on the internet so many people raving about this one dessert. And it's a fairly simple dessert, but there are so many variations, and it's so easy to have a bad one. The main components are marscapone cheese, espresso, coffee liqueur, and ladyfingers. It has a colourful history too. It's said to be named "pick me up" (the literal translation of tirami - su in Italian), because it was a favourite of Venice courtesans who ate it to fortify themselves between amorous encounters. The name has been traced back to a restaurant in Treviso, Italy, called Le Beccherie.

Here's some tiramisu "porn" - some pics of some different presentations.

Try doing it yourself with possibly the very original recipe for Tiramisu, from Le Beccherie.


filmgoerjuan said...

My first tiramisu was made by an Italian classmate and her sister. They prepared a wonderful, multi-course dinner and topped it off with the best tiramisu I've ever had. Of course when I asked for the recipe a couple of years later neither could remember :(

Dumpling_Girl said...

Oh, how exciting! My first comment from someone who I haven't personally hassled into checking out my new blog. Thanks! And another first time tiramisu experience that can't be recreated. :)

skittles_addict said...

So true. My first tiramisu was from a chain restaurant called Bread Garden, but recently I had some from a real Italian bakery called Fratelli's (near Commercial and 1st...or 5th -- for people in the GVRD) and it just wasn't the same. Now I'm looking for a place that sells soft ladyfingers to try a recipe. Ah well, the search continues...