Friday, April 13, 2007

soul food

Seven years ago, before he was about to leave for Christmas break and after I had submitted his grade, Vinny Termini appeared in my kitchen at the Culinary Institute of America with a box of pastries from his family's shop in Philadelphia. There were cannoli, macaroons, baba au rhum and a bunch of other fine things all of them first rate, if forgotten.

But the one thing in that box I could not forget and indeed, cannot forget, was the torrone. It was the best I have ever eaten -nothing like the boxed stuff from Italy that I was most familiar with. In fact the Termini Brothers' torrone was so good that I began to buy it at least once-a-year for my family and friends.

If you have never heard of torrone you could be forgiven. But for Italian-Americans of a certain age, this wafer clad nougat confection is embroidered into the fabric of our identity. While it's not at the epicenter of being like pasta or prosciutto, it's regular appearance at Christmas time, Easter and fancy Sunday dinners attended by visiting relations, makes it at least as essential a mnemonic to us as say, a devil's food layer cake, might be to another species of American.

Of course I could make torrone myself, but screw it. You need special molds (I believe Termini Bros. have been using the same bronze molds for 80 years.) the wafer is not that easy to get and a pain to make (I've done it, I know). And anyway, the torrone from Termini Bros. is too good to bother.

And another thing, the empty cans are great for storing stuff. I've gt a half dozen in my workshop that are full of screws, drill bits, switches and everything but, alas, torrone.

Termini Bros Pasticceria


The Foodist said...

So what grade did Vinny end up with? he he he

Bob del Grosso said...

Foodist: wiseguy- he gave me the stuff after the grades were filed. Vinny is an an honorable guy.

And if you are at the CIA, don't think you can pull something like that and bump your grade up. It won't work. Try asking to assist at a demo, that might work :-).

Lou said...

Now that brought back some memories. I've been eating these for as long as I can remember (and probably longer).

Thanks for the link. I would never have thought would carry these.

Puerto Ricans also love turro'n (that's supposed to be an accent over the "o". It typically comes in a large block instead of the individual boxes. I believe it's from Spain.

The Foodist said...

haha yeah I know, Ive seen many a student trying to greese the wheels as it were. Doesnt pan out well from the ones Ive seen.

tscape said...

Another Puerto Rican here who grew up with turrón. For me it's always been a Christmastime thing.

Thanks for the link - I have not easily found turrón, or torrone, or whatever you want to call it, 'round these parts.

Tags said...

I was at the Reading Terminal Market in Philly today and remembered what you said about Termini's torrone, so I picked some up. Is there any type of nut they don't use? Spectacular, even my one non-Italian grandparent's (Hannah Gallagher) DNA was happy to have it.

Bob del Grosso said...

I'm thrilled to read that you tried Termini's torrone and liked it. I swear it's the best I've ever eaten and probably one of the best in the world.

Now I gotta git some. Oh marone.

Tags said...

Whaddya need a courier or somethin? How far are you from Philly? I'm right on the edge of W Philly in Upper Darby and can be in S Philly in about 20 minutes (then 1/2 hr to park). Maybe I can bring you some Eclat chocolates from West Chester. I read on eGullet that Jeffrey Steingarten wrote that they make the best caramels in the universe, but I already knew that.

Anyhoo, makes a great excuse for a fieoold trip.