Florence Fabricant wrote about a disturbing new food trend in the New York Times dining section recently: people are messing around with traditional tiramisu by adding new stuff, like lemon and berries, to it.
I know. I’m panicking too. Fabricant reports that a new specialty shop that serves six variations of the classic Venetian dessert has just opened up on Christopher Street in Manhattan. And get this: a similar-themed spot also opened up not too long ago in the motherland itself (Milan, specifically).
Now, I’m not necessarily opposed to flavour variations. For instance, I like all kinds of ice cream besides vanilla (especially mint chocolate chip and pralines and cream.) However when it comes to particularly iconic recipes, I get a bit fussy. And that includes tiramisu, the origins of which are unclear. Some say it was invented around 1971 (either in Sicily or Treviso, depending on whom you ask). Other accounts suggest it’s been around even longer. Apparently wives of Italian soldiers fighting in WWII used to load their husbands up with the boozy, caffeinated confection before they hit the fronts. Don’t scoff: it makes sense–tiramisu literally means, “pick me up.” And it certainly does just that with its espresso and liquor-soaked ladyfinger cookies layered between mascarpone custard and topped with cocoa.
I bet those men didn’t complain that their tiramisu didn’t have ganache on it.
I know, I’m being close-minded. Wild blueberry tiramisu topped with meringue is probably not terrible. I just don’t like messing around with perfection. But I am getting better. Why, just a few weeks ago I sampled a piece of rhubarb pie with strawberries. It certainly wasn’t as good as straight-up rhubarb pie, but it wasn’t half bad.