Once upon a time I was given a free slice of tiramisu by a kindly chef. I'd asked him not to trouble himself; I didn't want to appear greedy. But he brought it anyway. This chef was clearly proud of his tiramisu. His eyes lit up as he presented it to me.
I'd never had tiramisu before. The idea of it didn't really appeal to me. But it was a free dessert sitting right in front of me. I should at least try it, right? To my great embarrassment I just didn't like it.
Believe me, I wanted my preconceived notion to be wrong. I wanted to discover something new, delicious and life-altering that day. I tasted every element separately and in different combinations before finally giving up and sneaking out of the restaurant so that I wouldn't have to lie to the chef about his beloved creation. Sorry, tiramisu: Maybe you and I weren't meant to be.
Lately, I've been thinking about why I didn't like his tiramisu. Sure, it's light and gently sweet, but I'm no stranger to desserts like that. I love pies and cakes, but I can get down with an apple -- without caramel dip, even -- too. And, yes, strawberries are great with chocolate or a sprinkling of sugar, but a ripe, red, juicy berry on its own is also a thing of sweet beauty.
I decided I had to give this classic dessert another try. My first instinct was to find a fancy local Italian place to do a tasting. Then I realized I'd already had fancy tiramisu. Maybe that was the problem. Maybe I needed something more pedestrian.
My husband and I found ourselves at a bastion of basic Italian food. We finished dinner and I ordered the tiramisu. It looked pretty good. (Check out the photo above.) I tasted the lady fingers first. They had that familiar espresso flair and weren't completely soggy. There was a thin layer of chocolate on top that covered the thick custard.
As before, I tried every component by itself and then in different combinations until coming to a conclusion: This dessert doesn't appear to be for me. Like before, I didn't find it horrible, just sort of blah. Really, I'm stumped as to why that is. Is it the moist cookies? The massive amounts of custard or mascarpone? Is my body rejecting the lack of large quantities of chocolate?
I know I've only had tiramisu twice, but the fact that it was something I never thought to try on my own tells me that it may be better if we parted ways. That is, unless you can recommend a tiramisu with some zing for me.Adrienne Jones is a writer, photographer and world-class eater who blogs at A Girl and Her Camera. She loves desserts and has been known to take to a frosting tub with little more than a spoon and a well-tuned sweet tooth. She will report on her latest favorite treat every other Friday.