Sunday, November 27, 2011

While At The Table No One Grows Old

“You must visit Nonna. She lives in the village and seldom has visitors, but she absolutely makes the best dolci!” An enthusiastic endorsement like this prompted many journeys for Francine Segan, food historian, author and speaker, in her search for the very best Italian sweets. These treasured recipes are now in her latest book, Dolci, Italy’s Sweets.

Ms. Segan wanted to collect not only the recipes from generations past but also the ones served today in contemporary Italian kitchens. She met with famous chefs, contacted infamous Italian bloggers and visited the kitchens of Italian grandmothers. Her book guides us through Italy’s hills and valleys, nooks and crannies, as she cooks, tastes and records these luscious desserts.

Ms. Segan celebrated the launch of the book at The National Arts Club in the Gramercy Park section of Manhattan on November 10, 2011. Always an engaging speaker, she recounted stories of her latest trips to Italy and her search for divine desserts. She told of one Nonna who kept Francine in her kitchen for 6 hours until she “got the recipes right”. Still, I can think of worse ways to spend a day than in a warm cucina filled with aromas of chocolate and fruit.

The book is beautifully illustrated and the recipes are taken from all over Italy. Chapters are devoted to after-dinner liqueurs and special coffees. Ms. Segan includes a smattering of history and folklore among the dolci, as well as some of her favorite Italian food proverbs. For example, instead of an apple a day keeps the doctor away, due dita di vino e’ una pedata al medico (two fingers of wine is a kick in the butt to the doctor). And my personal favorite: a tavola non s’invecchia (while at the table no one grows old).

You can purchase Dolci: Italy’s Sweets at To learn more about Francine Segan, visit

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