Monday, March 1, 2010

Francine Segan at the New York Times Travel Show

On Sunday, February 28, author and food historian Francine Segan arrived at the New York Times Travel Show fresh from her appearance on NBC’s Today Show just an hour before. Having recently been named U.S. spokesperson for the Italian Dessert Industry (Associazione Industrie Dolciarie Italiane (AIDI), Segan shared some of her expertise with us, and we were impressed!

Here are just some of the highlights from her 15 minute talk:

Panforte, the popular, star-shaped cake means 'strong bread'. It was created by pharmacists in Rome specifically to increase libido.

Italy’s Piedmont region is the center for Italian chocolate. Espresso is usually served with a square of chocolate wrapped in paper. For years Francine thought it was sugar and left it alone, until someone let her know it was chocolate!

Gianduotti candies were made by the Caffarel company, wrapped in paper and tossed to party goers at Carnevale to introduce it to the public in the 1800’s. A chocolate shortage during the Napoleonic Wars forced Caffarel to get creative and combine equal parts chocolate and hazelnut into this dreamy bite.

Vin Santo (sainted wine) got its name because as the story goes, when it’s drunk it saves lives.

Ms. Segan has distinguished herself through hundreds of television appearances on The Today Show, Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood, The Early Show, the Food Network, PBS, History and Discovery Channels. She also lectures extensively, including at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., the Virginia Fine Arts Museum and the American Museum of Natural History and the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan.

You can enjoy two Essence of Italy interviews with Francine Segan, available as podcasts or written transcripts. Find the podcasts here:

Italy and Chocolate: An Affair to Remember
The Opera Lover’s Cookbook

Find the written transcripts here:

Italy and Chocolate: An Affair to Remember
The Opera Lover’s Cookbook

The AIDI includes market leaders in the Italian dessert industry and small artisan firms specializing in delectables such as cake, cookies, ice cream, chocolate and candy. They’ve just launched their website,, complete with recipes and information.

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