A little sweetness is always welcome in our life, but perhaps we have never needed to sweeten our days as much as in 2020. It was truly a difficult year and for this reason we decided to bring a little sweetness to everyone, with a very tasty interview with the author of the blog Fragolosablog.com, Veronica Triolo.
Her book “Dolce Firenze & Toscana – The sweet side of our country” published by Nuova Editoriale Florence Press is in its second edition, expanded in format and content. A journey through the Tuscan pastry and ice cream shops, this time translated into English! And there’s more: one of the recipes served at our breakfast, the Matcha Tea Plumcake, is mentioned in the book, which for us at Antica Torre Tornabuoni represents a great pride.
Now that we’ve done the introductions, we’ll let the author herself tell us about her book. Voila!
Antica Torre: Your book is a real journey through the excellence in terms of Tuscan pastry and ice cream shops. Can you tell us what readers will find of special in the pages of Dolce Firenze & Toscana?
Veronica Triolo: The book is about pastry shops, gelaterie (ice cream shops), signature desserts, bread, sweets for special occasions and much more. In fact, we want to launch a broader reasoning on the world of sweets and that is the correlation of these with art, culture in general and communication; the world of children; how to build a balanced menu between sweet and savory and so on.
AT: According to what logic did you choose the desserts to talk about in your book? What were your pre-requisits?
VT: I certainly started with those who use excellent raw materials, mainly from the territory and those who work the ingredients in purity, not using additives, preservatives, dyes, etc.
I made a first surprise visit and a second one by appointment directly in the laboratory, where I was able to appreciate the working methods, the cleanliness of the spaces and the type of atmosphere I found. The atmosphere is very important to me as I firmly believe that, only in a peaceful and harmonious environment, you can develop those positive energies that permeate the product and then reach those who taste it.
AT: The Antica Torre is also mentioned in the book. Could you anticipate something to our readers?
VT: I would prefer not to anticipate anything on the pages dedicated to the Antica Torre, as it is one of my favorite places, that I have been attending for years. What I can say is that even a hot coffee and a tart have a special flavor there. I am reassured by the fact that, at any moment of the day, if I arrive suddenly, there is always someone who takes care of me and who pampers me with the last freshly baked cookie and all this always happens with extreme naturalness and with that harmony I was talking about before.
AT: The book talks about sweetness, but not only that, it also talks about the people who have dedicated their lives to their creations. Could we say that it is a tale of life stories as well as sweet culinary experiences?
VT: Of course, it is first of all a tale of life stories. What is nice to find out is if there really is that mixture between the story of the character and the product he produces. If these two are similar, it means that we are in coherence and that’s the game.
AT: Are there any recipes of the sweets you are talking about and if so, were the pastry chefs generous in sharing them or did some secrets remain in their drawer?
VT: The secrets do not exist, at least since you can easily surf on the web. The recipes found at the end of the book are a simplified version dedicated to readers. Anyways, it would be impossible to reproduce at home one of the integral recipes of these master pastry chefs, both from the point of view of the necessary tools and the procedures to be carried out.
AT: You have a very popular Italian-French blog, fragolosablog.com, which deals with lifestyle but above all with art and culinary art. What is to you the connection among them?
VT: Let’s say that it mainly deals with art and all forms of art that fascinate me, in which culinary art is certainly included. The only connection I find between the arts and food is that it reflects my personal interest. Surely it is an atypical blog, and I am perfectly aware of that. It is built in this way because it does not bore me, and I am not forced to canalize my energies and my thoughts only in one topic.
AT: The cover of the book has a particular history. Could you tell us about it?
VT: The cover design was born in France, on last year’s Christmas, during a lunch at the home of Ian, the designer of the book. We were at the table with his wife Jennie and we talked about the project of the book and the fact that I was always on the train to go looking for “sweets”. At that moment it came naturally to us to think of a train where sweets dance wildly, along with bread, candies, etc. and he decided to design the cover and the internal illustrations for me.
AT: How was it to write a book that talks about sweetness (about the sweets themselves and about the sweetness of the companies that produce Tuscan artisan sweets) during a very bitter pandemic, not only for health but also for the economy and, consequently, for the shops that sell these sweets? In a post-covid world increasingly oriented towards “slow”, what is your wish for the future of Tuscan excellence?
VT: The book was written before and during the pandemic and, above all, during the first Lockdown, which was very hard for all of us. I have lived and still live the drama of the moment, both from an economic and a human point of view.
Some of the places I wrote about, unfortunately, have not been able to reopen and for me it was an immense pain, which I still cannot metabolize.
However, at a certain moment, the publisher decided that we had to release the book, even though we were in the red zone. I was terrified and very tried but, I must admit that this was a really winning and courageous choice. The book was received with great affection and consideration and everyone looked at it and interpreted it with hope for future development and with a desire for recovery on a more solid and more human basis.
“Dolce Firenze & Toscana – The Sweet Side of Our Country”, the best pastry chefs, sweets and the most typical and exquisite “gelati” with recipes, di Veronica Triolo
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