As Americans, many of us have unique links to our ancestry, some are clear cut and some are fuzzy. Growing up, it was very clear I am in an Italian American family; my grandmother who is Sicilian, particularly has kept the culture alive for the family (thank you Mom-Mom). Her baking is known not only within our family, but her community.
I am by no means a professional baker or even a top tier at home baker…let’s put it this way, I don’t weigh my ingredients. However, my love for baking is strong and comes from my Italian roots. Therefore, I figured why not start my journey by baking my way through certain recipes in a classic Italian recipe book my grandmother used to use. PSA: I won’t be using any of Mom-Mom’s recipes because they are a family secret :).
I will be using my grandmother’s 1958 copy of The Talisman Italian Cookbook by Ada Boni, translated by Matilda Pei (Pei grew up in Rome and moved to the United States when she was 18; she worked for the Censorship Bureau). In the foreword of the book, Pei discusses Boni’s success. Ada Boni did not start out as a cookbook writer, rather she was an editor of Preziosa, which was Italy’s then leading women’s magazine. In 1928, Boni tied on her apron and wrote a cookbook bringing together thousands of different Italian recipes to create Talismano della Felicità. Her cook book became recognized in Italy as the standard national cookbook. The version I am using is a synthesized version of her original 600 page book that recorded over 2,000 recipes.
I will be working solely out of her desserts section and choosing a handful of recipes that I have never made before. This will definitely be an adventure. These are not easy recipes and they are definitely not “normal” for an average baker…..in other words, get ready to read about and watch some funny fails or some ecstatic successes.
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If you have any advice or some fun stories about baking Italian desserts, comment below 🙂