Once upon a time in Texas, there was a girl with an appetite and a dream...


The End of the Affair

Call me silly if you must for being so irritated by such a trivial thing, but some things to me are sacred, and one of these things is food...good food, and quality products. This is one reason that I moved to Italy. I can regularly find the best produce IN THE WORLD and not have to commit my firstborn child to pay for it.

But today, I had a very unwelcome surprise. I wanted to make chocolate truffles. They are very simple and delicious, and because of this simplicity, they require good chocolate, good cream, and real butter. I found good chocolate. I found real butter. Now I must breathe, because this is where it gets ugly.

I am used to being appalled by certain things that I see here in Italy (littering, car seat-less babies, etc), but never would I ever have imagined that this feeling would be a reaction to something food-related.

I needed UNSWEETENED heavy cream. Guess what I found. I was given a box of sweetened cream. Please don't call me dramatic. The worst is yet to come.

Upon further inspection, I found that there was no cream in the cream. I found that it was made from vegetable fat and had more chemicals than a can of Aqua Net hairspray. This is where I should hear a gasp of horror from the audience. If you're not gasping quite horribly yet, just look at that label. Would you allow that into your body? Ew.

My fire was further fueled by the insistence that this was cream and it was to be whipped. "But I don't want to whip it," I said, "and if I did, I wouldn't whip that." It was useless to explain my recipe and that I wasn't even sure if chocolate would melt in this product or if it would just explode upon heating and murder me with toxic fumes. Had I tried to explain that I wanted to make a ganache, the wasted breath would have been enough to make me faint right there next to the cauliflower.

After trying 3 stores, I gave up. I walked back home with short, angry strides, trying to understand how such an atrocious product could be served lovingly to children in a country where quality food is a sacred, Italy-given right. I even asked a sweet old lady, only to be assured that she has always used that, and it's great for whipping.

You may call me picky, but for me, this is impossible and unacceptable and I would rather give give up chocolate for life than eat Hopla'. Italy is the uncontested epicenter of culinary integrity for me and today I suffered a bit of disappointment. This is not the kind behavior I would expect of my surrogate country.

Maybe I'll find some real cream tomorrow. If not, I will be forced to telekinetically pout away all the Hopla' in Naples, and no one will ever be forced to eat "vegetable fat product" again.

Now there's a happy ending.

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Blogger Angie said...

I would not call you silly! That is pretty gross! Although I did laugh out loud when you compared it to Aqua Net. :)

2/14/2007 11:24 AM

Blogger Waspgoddess said...

That's disgusting! I'm arranging to have a cow sent immediately.

2/14/2007 1:03 PM

Blogger Ambra Celeste said...

Tracie, I completely understand your reaction! The first Italian words I really learned were food related. You learn first what is more important and interesting in daily life... If you don't have any luck finding cream without all the added gunk, I will send you some from Torino, and it should only take a few days to arrive (UHT so it will be fresh)! Let me know!

2/14/2007 1:47 PM

Anonymous Kaffeebohne said...

I never thought that this could happen in Italy. Some of these product are entering the german market because of low-fat diets. But I would never use them. When I had health problems I would reduce fat but not exchange it with vegetable fat products. In another blog I read about cheese made of vegetable fats. It's horrible.

2/14/2007 2:03 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Buon San Valentino!

2/14/2007 3:00 PM

Blogger nikinpos said...

I needed proper cream once too. I ended up mixing the runny single cream (in the pink cartons next to the milk) with some marscapone. It sort of worked, well better than the hair mousse hopla!

2/14/2007 3:00 PM

Blogger Kim and Victoria said...

This is so sad! I wonder what sort of cream the Italian bakeries use???

2/14/2007 7:40 PM

Blogger NemesisNicole said...

Can't you make your own cream? *LOL*

2/14/2007 10:14 PM

Blogger Tracie B. said...

angie--my adolescence was filled with that hairspray at the hands of my sister and her poof. (shut up misty, it was the 80s)

waspgoddess--that's a great idea! i hope it can graze on my balconey

ambra--thanks! i'm going to keep trying, even if my bottom lip falls right off

kaffeebohne--ew i know. i don't like it when things pretend to be other things

travel--y'all too!

i think that mixing that runny cream with cow patties would be better than hopla

kim and victoria--i'll never eat the whipped cream again

nemesis--now that's an idea...if waspgoddess would just send me that cow...

2/15/2007 3:01 AM

Blogger Sicilian said...

Tracie. . . . when you come to Tejas. . . you will find cream. . . the real kind. . . then you can indulge. . .
I too wanted to make my love truffles. . . however . . . . somewhere between HEB and my house. . . . the good chocolate disappeared. . . I know it will show up. . . . when the cream is curdled. . . but the truffles. . . they were but a dream. . . until the chocolate shows up in some unusual place. . . . hopefully not the SUV.

2/15/2007 9:06 AM

Blogger nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

LOL. that "cream" sounds fa schifo.

2/15/2007 9:56 AM

Blogger Susan in Italy said...

1. Well it ain't worse than the rainbow-colored twisty marshmallows they sell at the Esselunga here in Milan, but...

2. Holy cannoli! You mean they don't even have real panna da montare o da cucinare in Naples? It's everywhere in Milan (full of preservatives 'cause it's never refrigerated, but still it's panna.)

3. I'm afraid the whole of the industrialized world is moving toward "technology" in food the way the US has already done.

2/15/2007 12:47 PM

Anonymous Jennifer said...

I'm pretty sure you'd have the same reaction to the canned squeeze cheese that I draw smiley faces on Maggie's crackers with. I bought it purely nostalgia's sake, I swear.

2/15/2007 2:25 PM

Anonymous pat said...

Good for you Tracie. It's nice to know that I'm not the only person in the world outraged by these things. This processed food thing is global, and Italy loves to copy things American whether they admit to it or not. When you speak up people in Italy will listen whether they admit it to you or not.

2/15/2007 6:21 PM

Blogger Tracie B. said...

susan--they have "panna da cucina," that thick stuff, but i don't think that would go over well for the ganache

jennifer--i'm going to call CPS, just as soon as i finish my twix and diet coke

pat--no one listens, i'm just annoying

2/16/2007 5:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My grand culinary image of Italy has been shattered. I'm limping into the corner now to cry.

2/17/2007 9:29 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yesterday when I went to my neighborhood supermarket (in a small town in Campania), I remembered your post, and I checked the dairy section to see what was available. Despite the fact that I've found real cream there in the past, all that was available was Hopla! Disgusting! I guess I won't be making any desserts that call for cream anytime soon.


2/20/2007 5:58 AM

Anonymous Tina said...

It seriously amazes me the crap that some people are willing to put into their bodies. And they don't think anything of it, not even when they see the ingredients.
My motto is, if it's not food, don't eat it.

2/20/2007 12:05 PM

Anonymous Tina said...

P.S. you can find real cream in Umbria if you're willing to make the trip up... :-) Wish I were there to bring some to you!

2/20/2007 12:06 PM

Blogger Tracie B. said...

ah tina, next time :)

moon--i'm sending the kleenex

karen--where are you in campania?

2/22/2007 5:57 AM

Anonymous Judith in Umbria said...

Golly, my supermarket has that stuff but they have real cream, too. Someone must use it, but it isn't me! It's like do it yourself Cool Whip, I suppose. Valuable perhaps for people who cannot eat dairy and want strawberry shortcake-- but which Italian would that be?
Think of all the transfats!
Just start yelling "Panna fresca!"

2/24/2007 3:23 AM

Anonymous Judith in Umbria said...

BTW, you can use panna da cucina because I have done it. BUT I use only the one with no additives. Here that is findable by reading the label.

2/24/2007 3:27 AM

Blogger Tracie B. said...

thanks judith!

2/24/2007 10:45 AM


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