“Excuse me. Can you show me where the Piazza Ancillotto is ?”
“I am sorry, I don’t know,” replied the elegant lady whom I had addressed.
“I am looking for the restaurant Le Beccherie.”
“Oh, yes! Le Beccherie. Go straight along the portico and then turn right.” Remarkable! It’s the third time I asked, and although nobody seemed to know the name of the square, everyone was able to point me to Le Beccherie.
It was a beautiful evening toward the end of September, and Treviso was a splendid city. I had to leave my car in the parking lot outside the pedestrian zone, and it was a pleasant walk under the portici of the ancient medieval downtown. I passed along the side of a princely palace and crossed the magnificent Loggia dei Cavalieri. The stores were still open, and the streets were full of people. However, it was not so easy to find my way, and I had already gotten lost three times
I had been thinking of visiting Le Beccherie for a while. It was possibly there that Tiramisù was invented. I had researched and found the first written documentation of this dessert. A 1981 article by Giuseppe Maffioli had piqued my curiosity, and I was determined to find out as much as I could about the origins of Tiramisù.
Giuseppe Maffioli (1925-1985) was a famous gourmand, a member of the Italian Cuisine Academy, an actor, writer, journalist, and the founder of a magazine called Vin Veneto, which means, “wines of the Veneto region.” In 1981, in an article about coffee-based desserts, he wrote:
< Recently, just a little more than a decade ago, in the city of Treviso, there emerged a new dessert: the Tiramesù. It was proposed for the first time at the restaurant Le Beccherie by a certain pastry chef named Loly Linguanotto, who had by chance freshly held a few jobs in Germany
The dessert and its name, “Tiramesù,” meant to describe an extraordinarily nutritious and invigorating food, immediately gained popularity. Tiramesù was prepared with absolute faithfulness or a few variations not only in the restaurants of Treviso, but the entire Veneto region and in all of Italy. The Tiramesù is, after all, a coffee-flavored “zuppa inglese” like the one made in my own house on the day of St. Joseph for my grandfather’s birthday. This old preparation, though, was not yet Tiramesù, and it must be said that the name has its own prestigious importance.
Finally, I got to the Piazza Ancillotto. The famous restaurant Le Beccherie was almost hidden in the corner. There were tables set up outside under a large portico while the ambiance inside was elegant and classic. It was early, and there were not yet many patrons except a few tourists that had ventured inside. Most of the customers would arrive later, around nine in the evening, as is usual in Italy. Carlo Campeol, the current owner, greeted me with an energetic handshake and a wide smile. Gentle and elegant, he looked more like an aristocratic Venetian lord than a restaurant owner.
“Well, I am going to challenge you, Mr. Campeol. What do you have to say about the story that Tiramisù was invented in Baltimore?” I asked.
“Do you know the proverb, ‘Defeat has only one mother, while victory is the offspring of a hundred fathers’?” he asked.
“No. What does it mean?”
“Well, if you fail in something, it is your own responsibility, but if you are successful… Well, if you are successful, hundreds of people suddenly spring up, ready to try to take the merit.”
“Then, please tell me who invented Tiramisù.”
“My mother invented Tiramisù here at Le Beccherie in 1971. It is a simple variation of the zabaglione cream that has been prepared for generations. We still make it with the same recipe, exactly as we did thirty-five years ago.”
“And what about the claim that somebody else in town sold Tiramisú to Le Beccherie, and you passed it off as your own?”
“We are a reputable restaurant and have never in our long history bought from outside suppliers. All our desserts have always been carefully produced in our own kitchen.”
“And your parents are still here in the restaurant?”
“They don’t work in the restaurant anymore, but they are here, and I will introduce them to you.”