I have a definite appreciate for the four-course meals that are part of Italian rituals…but in doing my Italian Food Pyramid a while back, it struck me that there’s also a certain method and hierarchy to Italian dessert too. Thus, the Italian dessert food groups or pyramid.
I find the after-dinner ritual of dessert just as comforting as Italian food itself. Offering guests a small glass of alcohol and proceeding into coffee. I also appreciate the serving of fruit, something that is not necessarily always common in other cultures, before the heavier things are served. And it’s always in that order, so the pyramid was easy to build. Digestivo first, coffee and fruit and nuts, followed by a good canoli (or panettone at Christmas, or zeppole in February…).
The rituals of desserts and dolci play a big part of my family heritage with recipes that are old and new variations that have become favourites. What I love about Italian desserts is that they aren’t always super sweet, but can go a bit to the savoury side, using nuts and honey and wine in cooking. What this really stems from is Italian dolci always being simpler, in fact it was mostly fruits used as sweets many years ago, and it is thought that only with the addition of French and American influences that some of the other cakes and rich desserts that items like tiramisu become popular. Many cookbooks point to Italian desserts being “humble”, which I don’t necessary agree with. It’s not the fat content in the desserts that I find satisfying – and I think this might be the same for others – but it is the complex tastes that do it for me.
My attempt to diet, especially while making this Italian dessert food groups pyramid is being, is being challenged. But it a part of a meal I’d loath to give up, if just for the memories and familiarities it brings.