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A Trip to the Birthplace of Tiramisu’:
Visiting Le Beccherie
by Pietro Mascioni

(page 2 of 2)
mr- mrs campeol

Mr. Aldo and Mrs. Alba Campeol, former owners of Le Beccherie, invented the Tiramisu’ in their restaurant  the early 1970s.

Finally Mr. Aldo and Mrs. Alba Campeol, an adorable couple, entered, and I introduced myself.
“I am honored. Such a pleasure.”
“I was young when I began,” said Mrs. Campeol, “I have worked all over to learn. Being a restaurateur is a hard line of work.”
She then began to tell of experiences in Milan and the good reviews she and her husband had received for their traditional approach to the regional cuisine of Treviso.
“Please tell me the story of Tiramisù,” I asked. “How did you invent it?”
Her face lit up as she narrated her story. “When my son was born, I was very weak, and my mother-in-law, to help me recuperate some energy, gave me zabaglione. You know, a simple one like the kind we make in Treviso, egg-yolk and sugar beaten together, with a bit of mascarpone cheese.”
At this moment, a flashback appeared vividly in my mind. I remembered that when I was a boy, my mother would give me zabaglione made with egg-yolk and sugar beaten together until white and fluffy. “You need to grow, you need to study,” she would tell me, “come on, eat it. It will give you energy.” I also remembered how much I hated having to beat the egg in the morning before going to school, but also how tasty and soft it was.
“That time,” Mrs. Campeol continued, “my mother-in-law also added a bit of coffee to it. ‘Mangia,’ she told me, ‘It will lift you up.’ It was so good that when I went back to the restaurant, I told Lello--
“Excuse me,” I interrupted. “Who is Lello?”
“Roberto Linguanotto. We called him Lello. He was the chef who worked with us. I said to Lello, ‘Why don’t we try to make a dessert out of this?’ And he had an idea to make layers of Savoiardi [ladyfinger] cookies dipped in coffee. Then we added the cocoa topping. It was then that I remembered my mother-in-law’s words, and we called it ‘Tiramesù.’ [‘Tiramesù’ means ‘lift me up,’ or ‘pick me up’ in the Venetian dialect.] When the rumor about the dessert spread, people were coming from all over Treviso and beyond. Even the chefs and pastry chefs came to taste it. After a while, there were a lot of people from this area that claimed to have invented it. Who would have thought then that it would become so famous,” Mrs. Campeol regretted. “If only we had known!”
When the Campeols got ready to leave, Mrs. Campeol shook her index finger in the air almost as if to reproach me, and said, “Please don’t put any liquor in the Tiramisù because we give it to children and elderly people for energy.”
The way in which Mrs. Campeol explained this event so far away in time was simple and logical. Is it not like this, in fact, that many wonderful preparations are born, from the evolution of an already existing dish? I think of the Pizza Margherita, of Carpaccio, and of Pasta all’Alfredo, all born through the creativity of a chef in a moment of inspiration.
I looked around while I waited for the bill. Hanging from a wall, an old diploma read,
“From the members of the Academy of Italian Cuisine to the Campeol family, who in the ancient restaurant Le Beccherie, continues the best tradition of the Treviso cuisine. Treviso, December 19th, 1974.”
It was followed by the signatures of the twenty members of the Academy from all over Italy. As I scanned them, I balked with surprise. In the left corner, I noticed the signature of Giuseppe Maffioli. I felt like an archeologist who had discovered a new treasure.
How could I not read a sign in this last-minute little discovery of mine? There in front of me was a message from the past. Maffioli, a regular at Le Beccherie, had organized a meeting of the most prestigious culinary organization in Italy right there during the years Tiramisù had first started to appear.
Arrigo Cipriani, the owner of the Harris Bar and inventor of the Carpaccio, in the preface of the book Il Ghiottone Veneto [The Venetian Glutton], described Giuseppe Maffioli as:
A big, fat man, who was always in a rush, restless, and in a way not congenial with his size. […] When he came to our restaurant [The Harris Bar], he said, “Buondi’ Paron” [“good morning chief,” in the Venetian dialect]. He addressed me without smiling, and walked right into the kitchen, where he put his index finger in the boiling broths and sauces on the stoves without a care about the astonished chefs. He tasted everything and said, “Bon!” [Good!]

If Maffioli, an inquisitive gourmet and food critic in a small town like Treviso, was truly such a man, then he would have known if someone outside of Le Beccherie had created the resounding recipe.

After hearing the story of Mrs. Alba Campeol and reading the documents written over twenty-six years ago by a member of the Academy of Italian Cuisine, what else is necessary to dispel all the bizarre and unfounded stories about the origins of Tiramisù? I have no doubts that Tiramisù was first prepared at Le Beccherie. My research had come to an end. In a simple and logical way, the circle closed.
It was finally time for dinner. I never liked eating alone, but my meal at Le Beccherie was exceptional, robust, and refined at the same time. I had soppressa, a type of local salami, baccalà mantecato, salt cod slowly cooked in milk, and polenta with mushrooms as appetizers, and then pasta e fagioli Trevigiana, bean soup with radicchio, a traditional peasant dish of Treviso. “It is not our radicchio,” Carlo pointed out. “True radicchio from Treviso is not yet in season. This comes from Soave [a city located closer to Verona at a lower altitude].”  I also had some pheasant, perfectly cooked, with polenta and a liver sauce, and some pearà sauce made with broth and bread. At the next table, they served a filet “alla pietra.” A slab of incandescent stone was brought to the table and the filet sizzled, shortly broiled for a few minutes on each side, in front of mesmerized customers.

Pasta e Fagioli alla Trevigiana, (Beans Soup in the style of Treviso) with the Treviso Red Radicchio.

Finally came the moment for which I had been waiting. The dessert cart was brought, and immediately noticeable was the famous Tiramisù. Don’t expect exotic flavors. The tiramisu of Le Beccherie is the simplest and most honest Tiramisù that you can eat.
There were no secret ingredients or bizarre culinary inventions. This is a veritable return to the origins. And if you are disappointed, I can only feel pity for you. It means that your palate is not able to appreciate the simplicity of Italian cuisine.

Pietro Mascioni

© Pietro Mascioni 2007,

The tiramisu of “Le Beccherie”.

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