Crocetta – Breakfast
“No, No, No, No!” Dottoressa Persico yelled while waving a reprimanding finger in my face. Dejected, I stood on the weighing scale in her office in Salerno, Italy. Dottoressa had weighed me three weeks before and for a woman who was 25 weeks pregnant, I was within range. Obviously, this was not the case now.
When we moved to Italy from my home state of New York in December 2006, I was six months pregnant. Upon arrival in my husband’s hometown, Salerno, I went to my new gynecologist for a quick checkup.
Shortly thereafter, we moved up north to Crocetta, a trendy neighborhood in the city of Torino, Italy, where my husband Max and I had visiting positions at the university. Torino is known for its vast, daily open market, and while in Crocetta, my favourite morning hobby was to “break the fast.”
Morning treat at Pasteceria Rivetti
A typical second breakfast would go like this: I’d take a cornetto, cut it along the bottom rim of the crescent shaped pastry, opened it, spread a knife full of Dijon mustard on both halves, slabbed on two slices of turkey then Swiss cheese on one half, took the other half and closed the sandwich, smooshed it, and then devoured it.
After our three-week sojourn in Crocetta, I returned to Salerno for my second checkup. Dottoressa Persico could not take her eyes off that scale. She wondered out loud, “How can one gain 9lbs (circa 4Kg) in a span of 3 weeks?”
Moncalieri – Lunch
“No, No, No, No!” “Ma come é possible?” (Italian for “How can that be?”).
Around noon, we left Crocetta for Moncalieri, a little town on the outskirts of Torino. Perched on a hill, the town dons a tall and narrow church on its peak with little cafes and stores descending along both sides of the slope. To the immediate right of the church lies Caffé Cittá, a cafeteria that mainly catered to the professors and students at the Collegio Carlo Alberto, University of Torino, where Max was a Visiting Professor of Math and Economics and I was a Visiting PhD Student of Political Science in the winter of 2007.
Marocchino Coffee, Torino
Every day at 12:30pm we congregated in the main hall of the former boarding schools for the sons of Italian nobility and headed up the hill to the Caffé Cittá for lunch. You could tell from the hearty and often spicy cuisine that the chefs came from Calabria. I relished the lunch hour. We would have the standard Italian meal with an antipasto, a primo piatto of pasta and a secondo with meat, chicken, or pork, and then top it off with a fruit or dessert and a macchiato.
Moncalieri – Coffee and Chocolate Break
But Dottoressa Persico was not satisfied. “No, No, No, No!” She turned on her heals and headed back to her desk. Then she did the unimaginable, “I’m putting you on a diet!” I pleaded, “But Dottoressa, everything is so good up there, have you ever tried the Marocchino?” She ignored me and proceeded with my diet sentence.
Torino is known for its coffee and chocolate. On the first night we arrived there, we went to Caffè Fiorio. To describe it as elegant would be an understatement, but exquisitely refined would do it justice. I had the Marocchino, which consists of whipped milk, powdered cocoa, and espresso. It is mixed with cocoa that streams through the beverage turning it into what most describe as a “leather brown” color.
On discovering Marocchino, I had one with Max and his co-author, Luigi, every afternoon around 4pm at the pasticceria Rivetti, a few yards down the street from the Collegio in Moncalieri. Sometimes, I would squeeze in a chocolate pastry fresh out of the oven. I could not resist the little hot pastry pockets filled with dark, sweet chocolate that oozed its way in my mouth after every nibble.
Crocetta – Dinner
“No, No, No, NO!” A word of caution to other non-Italian pregnant women who happen to be in Italy during the last trimester and binge on Italian food: DON’T DO IT! The diet sentence was harsh. My breakfast snack was gone. My Italian lunch combination with a primo and a secondo eliminated; I could either have one or the other. My coffee and chocolate snack in the afternoon: “don’t even think about it,” she warned. For dinner I was only allowed one piatto, preferably a secondo piatto of fish and a fruit for dessert.
I ordered pineapple. They were especially good in that part of Italy, naturally sweet and juicy. My nights in Crocetta were grueling because I had to watch Max consume all of the local delights. While I was stuck with pineapple for dessert, Max enjoyed a Bonet, a flan-like cake made with cocoa and amaretti, almond cookies that contain the liquor amaretto. An amaretto cookie is placed on top of the chocolate flan, like a bonnet.
The Bonet, Torino
The name, Bonet, is said to come from either the cookie cutter which is shaped like a beret of a chef, or because the dessert is served at the end of the meal, in other words, it “tops” off the meal. The Bonet is the most typical, ancient traditional Piedmontese crème caramel dessert. Max hates flan, but he could not resist this one. He ordered it every night.I am sad to report that I resisted the Bonet.
Recommended Places to eat in Piedmont:
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, 10a, 10024 Moncalieri Torino
Via Po, 8, 10121 Torino
Via San Martino, 1, 10024 Moncalieri Torino