When I was younger, I would bake every weekend, inspired by weekly episodes of The Great British Bake Off. I would eagerly anticipate each issue of Gourmet Traveller, my passport to culinary exploration. Due to my European heritage, I have never felt restricted to cooking stereotypical Australian cuisine. In fact, I self-identity as a “food adventurer”, Heldke’s term for those who seek out ‘new, obscure and exotic’ food.
I dove into my ethnically diverse recipe collection for the Food Fair and chose Baci di Dama – hazelnut biscuits sandwiched with dark chocolate ganache. Although I have not made them in years, my love affair with the hazelnut-chocolate combination has endured.
Baci di Dama, translated as Ladies’ Kisses, originated in the Piedmont town of Tortona in the 19th century. The Piedmont region is renowned for its hazelnuts, which are of such significance to the regional culture and identity they hold certified agricultural protection in Italy and by UNESCO. A staple of Piedmont traditional home-baking, Baci di Dama have little visibility outside Italy, they remain a family recipe, prepared within Italian communities.
The preparation of the biscuits was an enjoyable nostalgic experience which transported me back in time, particularly when I tasted the batter of the biscuits and licked the bowl of chocolate. The challenge was that I had forgotten the changes that I used to make to the recipe. Consequently, I was displeased the biscuits were not uniform in shape, their presentation rather simple and rustic. Despite the lack of visual appeal, my peers at the Food Fair returned positive feedback.
The biscuits were a tantalising taste of my upcoming trip to Piedmont!
Find the recipe here.
Anderson, Lara and Heather Merle Benbow. “Tradition, modernity and exoticism: Plating up Peruvian in Melbourne.” Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural studies 31 1 (2017):114-125
Cavallo, Donatella. “Hazelnut from Piedmont.” Italian Food Excellence, 8 September 2014, http://www.italianfoodexcellence.com/hazelnut-from-piedmont/
Simari, Elizabeth. “Christmas treats in Piedmont: Baci di dama hazelnut cookies.” Made in Italy, http://www.made-in-italy.com/italian-food/news/baci-di-dama-christmas-treats-from-piedmont
Piedmont map: https://buonaforchetta.wordpress.com/regions/piemonte/
Other photos are the property of the author.