Monday, 27 June 2011

Happy Canada Day!

This is the week to reminisce about our roots and be thankful for all we have here.  While many of us will sing or hear our national anthem on Friday, there's another song I think of at this time of year called Che Sara by I Ricchi e Poveri.  Do you remember that tune from the early 70s?  It's a song about someone who decides to leave their hilltop village because it's almost lifeless. Their friends have all moved away and, as they decide to follow the same path, they wonder what the future holds for them.  Many artists have released this beautiful, very moving song over the years and I've provided a link here if you want to hear Patrizio Buanne's version.
Sponsored by his Zia who had emigrated to Canada in 1928, my dad sailed for Halifax from Sicily in 1951.  He took the Nea Hellas-- a Greek-owned passenger steam ship, leaving his hometown of Trapani where he owned and managed a movie theater after the war.  No one had money to go to the movies anymore, and there were no jobs to be found.  The rebuilding of Europe was moving at a snail's pace, so he took what little money he had and bought a one-way ticket to Canada.  Final destination?  Toronto.  His first job assignment would be to remove tins of baked bread from ovens in a downtown bread factory.

My mom left her hometown of Sora (53 miles south of Rome) and sailed on the Conte Biancamano in 1953. Half her family had left two years before; the rest would follow two years afterward.  The bombing that had taken place in and around Rome had devastated much of central Italy. My mother's family lost almost everything they had. They were one of many who decided to start a new life overseas. She found work quickly as one of hundreds of seamstress workers in Toronto's garment district.  She was only 16.

Like millions of other immigrants around the world, my parents brought their culture with them and adopted some of the new.  Those of us who are children of immigrants shared in their often painful struggle, understand why outrageous humor is often necessary to survive it, and rejoice in their resilient spirits.

We have much to celebrate!  In honor of Canada Day, I have made a red-and-white Tiramisu. Mine is a low-fat version as I've learned a bit about this dessert over the years!  Many of the traditional Tiramisu recipes are heavy with mascarpone making one wonder if they shouldn't really be called Tiramigiu (meaning you get a slice of drag-me-down dessert instead of an end of the meal pick-me-up). 

When I first started making Tiramisu,  I followed the full-mascarpone version.  Eventually I cut the fat by half; then by a third, and finally I eliminated the mascarpone altogether.  I find the lower-fat version tastes just as good, but you may not agree.  If that's the case, you may want to alter it further or go back to using mascarpone.  There is no question about it-- it tastes buonissimo!  To give your taste buds a maximum treat, this dessert needs to refrigerate for 24 hours before serving. Here is what you'll need to make it:

One 300g container of extra-smooth ricotta
One 650g container of vanilla yogurt
One 5.3 oz package of lady finger biscuits
One 8 oz package of whipping cream
A full square of semi-sweet baker's chocolate
A little strong coffee (about 4 oz)
A dash of rum (about 1/2 tbsp)
Slivered almonds and fresh raspberries

Brew your coffee and let cool slightly.  In the meantime,  mix ricotta and yogurt together in a large bowl.  After they're fully blended, pour one-third of this mixture into a second bowl.  Melt chocolate and add to this second container.

Pour your coffee into a third container and mix with rum.  Dip both sides of your lady fingers into the mixture.  This is a quick dip; don't let them soak.  Place your dipped lady fingers at the bottom of your container.  (I cut mine to fit my glass bowl but you may not need to do this if your serving bowl has a wider base.)  Add some of the white ricotta-yogurt mix on top, followed by a handful of slivered almonds and some berries.  Keep working in layers in this way, reserving the chocolate mixture for the middle of your dessert.  Next, whip up your cream. Add sugar to taste.  Top your Tiramisu with whipped cream and finish with berries. If you prefer, add more slivered almonds as well.  Serves 6 to 8. 

Accompany this sweet treat with strong espresso or iced caffelatte... depending on the temperature of the day.  This summer is turning out to be much cooler than usual so who knows what highs or lows we can expect by Friday?  Buon Divertimento!  Happy celebrating!  Hook up your music; I hope you have a great time.  Here's the second part of my playlist; some of my all-time favourites  and what we'll be listening to this Canada Day.

Italian-Canadian Summer Playlist (Part 2)
1.  Che Sara-  I Ricchi e Poveri
2.  Heart of Gold-  Neil Young
3.  Gigi l'Amoroso-  Dalida
4.  I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends-  The Beatles
5.  O Sole Mio-  Luciano Pavarotti
6.  I'll be There-  Michael Jackson
7.  Mambo Italiano-  Rosemary Clooney
8. I Believe in You-  Amanda Marshall
9. Arrivederci Roma-  Robertino Loretti
10.  Share the Land-  the Guess Who
If you have any immigrant stories to share, check out the Italian-Canadian Museum.  Here is the link:  Let's safeguard this piece of history for our families.

As a final note, I just learned that I Ricchi e Poveri will be performing a the CHIN international picnic this coming weekend!  Check performance times at:  Guess where I'll be on Saturday night?!


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  2. I found you from the foodie blog roll and I'd love to guide Foodista readers to your site. I hope you could add this tiramisu cake widget at the end of this post so we could add you in our list of food bloggers who blogged about tiramisu,thanks!