Yesterday’s lunch at Tango Pastry, to which CHoW members were graciously invited, answered one of my burning questions, namely “What is that thing called?”.
I frequent the Buenos Aires Bakery in the North Beach neighborhood of Miami Beach. It’s crowded, all going by in fast Spanish, and I never have the nerve to slow the whole scene down by asking for the name of each and every pastry. At the most, I pick up a name by eavesdropping on a customer.
So yesterday, when James and Sandra Comiskey served a lunch of matambre, pionono, tarta Pascualina, and vitel tone, I cornered them and asked for translations of the sweets they served for dessert–masas finas and facturas.
Sandra noted that many of the bakers in Argentina came from Sicily and were anarchists who brought with them their skepticism of establishment–religious and governmental. I think they also carried their tradition of irreverent pastry-naming.
Delicious Sicilian pastries and cookies are frankly named, with sometimes downright grisly names–bones of the dead, St. Catherine’s breasts, ugly but good. In Argentina, a breakfast of danish-style pastries, facturas, is a plate of “little horns, guards, canons, and dirty faces–cornitos, vigilantes, canones, and cara sucia.
Of course, as an Italian-(North) American, I’m intrigued by the similarities and differences in foodways. In both North and South America, immigrant Italians adapted their foodways to the incredible abundance of the new world. In both countries, meat became more central to the diet, put pasta continued to hold a place in hearts and stomachs. In North America, pastries are filled with custard and cream, in South America, dulce de leche rules. As Sandra noted, “We are this close to putting in on pizza!”
I’m taking a short posting break–off for food adventures in Mittel Europa–and will report back!