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Veneto factory worker triumphs in first ever Tiramisu World Cup

An Italian factory worker won the first ever Tiramisu World Cup on Sunday, beating 700 other amateurs to whip up the softest and creamiest version of Italy's famous dessert.

Veneto factory worker triumphs in first ever Tiramisu World Cup
One of the tiramisus entered in the competition. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Hundreds of would-be pudding maestros descended on the city of Treviso armed with whisks and sieves to compete in the two-day challenge to make the best tiramisu, which means “pick-me-up” in Italian.

The eventual winner, Andrea Ciccolella, 28, hails from Feltre in the Veneto region and works in an eyewear factory.

“My dream is to be a pastry chef and open a small cake shop of my own, where I'd make traditional, home-cooked things. Nothing fancy, but tasty and made well,” the victor told AFP.

Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

While the northern Italian region, home to the city of Venice, celebrated the sweet taste of victory the result was likely to embitter residents of neighbouring Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

A dispute over whether the pudding originates in the Veneto or Friuli region has divided foodies for decades.

Competitors for the prize were split into those following the original recipe — ladyfinger biscuits, mascarpone cheese, eggs, coffee, cocoa powder and sugar — and those getting creative by adding everything from strawberries to green tea.

While slicing bananas into the whipped mixture was permitted, adding alcohol like Marsala wine was not.

'Best dessert in the world'

The prize was awarded by Roberto Linguanotto, a pastry chef who worked in Treviso in the 1960s and 70s and is considered by Veneto as the man behind the original recipe.

“What gives the final touch to tiramisu is the coffee. It's expensive because each ladyfinger needs to be dunked in espresso, and you need lots of them: intense, good quality, flavoured,” he said.

Friuli scored an important victory in the battle over the birthplace of tiramisu in August, when the dessert was officially inserted into a list of the dishes recognized as traditional of the region.


Competitors show off their creations. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Veneto officials was outraged, with governor Luca Zaia calling on the agriculture and food minister to overturn the decision, saying “no one can swindle us out of tiramisu… the best dessert in the world”.

Friuli thumbed its nose back and poured salt on the wound when a company in Udine announced this week that it had produced a machine capable of churning out a tiramisu every 30 seconds.

Treviso mayor Giovanni Manildo side-stepped the debate on Sunday by dubbing his city “the moral capital of tiramisu”.

It was a declaration which may have amused Italian food writers who claim the dessert was actually created as a stamina-boosting treat that prostitutes fed their clients in Treviso brothels in the 1950s.

There were no reports on the stamina or blood sugar levels of the juries — composed of pastry chefs, food critics and members of the public — who were still dipping spoons as the sun went down.

READ ALSO: The words and phrases you need to know to decipher Italian restaurant menusThe words and phrases you need to know to decipher Italian restaurant menus

Photo: annakhomulo/Depositphotos

FOOD & DRINK

OPINION: Michelin-starred cuisine is just not suited to Italy

Michelin-starred food has its merits but it doesn't fit with the Italian tradition of cuisine, argues Silvia Marchetti and some frustrated Italian chefs. There's nothing better than a plate of steaming lasagne, she says.

OPINION: Michelin-starred cuisine is just not suited to Italy

I’ve never been a great fan of sophisticated dishes, twisted recipes and extravagant concoctions that leave you wondering what is it you’re actually eating. T-bone steak with melted dark chocolate as topping, burrata cheese with apples, spaghetti with blueberry sauce aren’t my thing.

Hence, I never eat at Michelin-starred restaurants, and it’s not because of the exorbitant bill – paying €200 for a salad simply because it was grown in the private garden of a chef which he personally sprinkles with mountain water each morning, is a bit over the top.

I just don’t think such fancy food has anything to do with the real Italian tradition.

The ‘nouvelle cuisine’, as the name suggests, was invented in France by chef Paul Bocuse. And it’s ‘nouvelle’ – new – not anchored to past traditions.

The philosophy of serving small morsels of chic food on humongous plates as if they were works of art is the exact opposite of what Italian culinary tradition is all about.

We love to indulge in platefuls of pasta or gnocchi (and often go for a second round), and there are normally three courses (first, second, side dish, dessert and/or coffee), never a 9 or 12-course menu as served at Michelin establishments (unless, perhaps, it’s a wedding).

Too many bites of too many foods messes with flavours and numbs palates, and at the end of a long meal during which you’ve tasted so many creative twists you can hardly remember one, I always leave still feeling hungry and unsatisfied. 

So back home, I often prepare myself a dishful of spaghetti because Michelin pasta servings often consist in just one fork portion artistically curled and laid on the dish. In fact, in my view Michelin starred cuisine feeds more the eye than the stomach.

The way plates are composed, with so much attention to detail, colour, and their visual impact, seems as if they’re made to show-off how great a chef is, than as succulent meals to devour. I used to look at my dish flabbergasted, trying to make out what those de-constructed ingredients were and are now meant to be, and then perplexed,

I look at the chef, and feel as if I’m talking to an eclectic painter who has created a ‘masterpiece’ with my dinner. I’m not saying Michelin starred food is not good, there are some great chefs in Italy who have heightened a revisited Italian cuisine to the Olympus of food, but I just don’t like it nor understand it.

There’s nothing greater than seeing a plate of steaming lasagne being brought to the table and knowing beforehand that my taste buds will also recognise it as such, and enjoy it, rather than finding out it’s actually a sweet pudding instead.

More than once, after a 4-hour Michelin meal with a 20-minute presentation of each dish by the chef, the elaborate food tasted has given me a few digestion problems which lasted all night long.

Michelin-starred food has started to raise eyebrows in Italy among traditional chefs, and is now the focus of a controversy on whether it embodies the authentic Italian culinary experience. 

A Milanese born and bred, Cesare Battisti is the owner of restaurant Ratanà, considered the ‘temple’ of the real risotto alla Milanese.

He has launched a crusade to defend traditional Milanese recipes from what he deems the extravagance and “contamination” of Michelin-starred cuisine. “Michelin-starred experiments are mere culinary pornography. Those chefs see their own ego reflected in their dishes. Their cooking is a narcissistic, snob act meant to confuse, intimidate and disorientate eaters”. 

Arrigo Cipriani, food expert and owner of historical trattoria Harry’s Bar in Venice, says Michelin-starred cuisine is destroying Italy’s real food tradition, the one served inside the many trattorias and historical osterias scattered across the boot where old recipes, and cooking techniques, survive.

“Tasting menus are made so that clients are forced to eat what the chef wants, and reflect the narcissistic nature of such chefs. Italian Michelin-starred cuisine is just a bad copy cat of the French one”, says Cipriani.

I believe we should leave French-style cuisine to the French, who are great at this, and stick to how our grannies cook and have taught us to prepare simple, abundant dishes. At least, you’ll never feel hungry after dinner.

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