Turin, City of Chocolate Treats

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Turin is the host city of the 2006 Winter Olympics, but outside of Italy few know the another little known fact about the city... its chocolate delicacies. David Lebovitz tells Debbie Elliott about Turin's proud place in the history of the confection.


Today was the first day of the Winter Olympics in Turin, and we'll be hearing reports on the Games later in the program. But first, a little culinary nugget about this important Italian city. It's the birthplace of at least one chocolate treat. David Lebovitz is author of the Great Book of Chocolate, and he joins me now to talk about it. Welcome to the program.

Mr. DAVID LEBOVITZ (Author, The Great Book of Chocolate): Hi, Debbie. How you doin'.

ELLIOTT: Good. I understand that Turin is the place where chocolate and hazelnut first met?

Mr. LEBOVITZ: Yes, they were. It's called gianduia, which is a wonderful word. Most people know it as Nutella, but actually gianduia was invented in the mid-1800s. Chocolate used to be very expensive because it was imported, or it still is, so they started mixing it with the hazelnuts of the region, which are really the best hazelnuts in the world, and gianduia was born. And then Nutella came along in the middle of, actually the early 1900s, and everybody knows that spread now. It's actually the largest selling spread in the world. It outsells all brands of peanut butter combined.

ELLIOTT: Really?

Mr. LEBOVITZ: Yes, it's huge. During the war, little kids used to bring their little toasts to the village baker, and they would smear Nutella on it for them, and that was called the smear because they couldn't afford a jar of it. But Turin's also very famous for, they invented, the popsicle was invented there. It's called the pinguino, which was the first ice cream on a stick, and that was invented in 1935.

ELLIOTT: Now, there's another specialty of Turin that involves chocolate. It's a drink called betereen(ph)?

Mr. LEBOVITZ: Beetereen(ph).

ELLIOTT: Beetereen.

Mr. LEBOVITZ: Yes. Beetereen means tiny glass or small glass, because that's what it comes in. It's three different layers. It's a layer of coffee, a layer of chocolate, and a layer of whipped cream.


Mr. LEBOVITZ: And everybody has one in the afternoon in Torino. It's very fun. You go to these little bars and cafes and stand there and have a beetereen.

ELLIOTT: Now can you find this anywhere else?

Mr. LEBOVITZ: No, you can't.

ELLIOTT: David Lebovitz is author of the Great Book of Chocolate. Thanks for joining us.

Mr. LEBOVITZ: All right, thanks, Debbie.

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