PASTRY IS FEMALE
It has always been argued that making pastry is a masculine art, but there are many signs indicating that in the future it could be dyed pink.
Women’s determination seems to be a winning quality, and while until a few years ago women spent most of the time serving at the counter and rarely in the production area, today
they are taking a more central role.
Members of the fair sex are shaking off their subordinate role, making a career for themselves and winning Michelin stars.
Several recent experiences tell a different story that testifies to the existence of a feminine pastry.
It seems that for some years now women pastry chefs have become brave and granted themselves the right to make themselves heard, demonstrating that even in the world of sweets there are two halves.
Tired of remaining in silence in production spaces learning the secrets of the sweet art, they have created feminine pastry.
Still struggling to emerge Television doesn’t help.
There people see almost only male chefs, underscoring the belief that the cooking world is masculine.
This leads to a disparity in salaries. A male pastry chef earns an average of 16% more than a female.
How do men defend themselves against the accusation of chauvinism?
In general, as with other professions, they justify themselves by emphasizing the heaviness of the workload. Others point out how difficult it can be to have to sacrifice the family and question the possibility of becoming a mother.
Some critics point to ghettoization in competitions, rankings and prizes. But young women pastry chefs are strong, prepared, and self-aware with a great desire to emerge in a world that resists opening up to new things.
On the other hand, the pastry business shares some characteristics of the female universe: elegance, complexity, apparent fragility, beauty, and rigor that accompany boldness.
The presentation of desserts benefits greatly from an extra touch on the plate or with a shape that acquires harmony.
And women know how to manage conflicts, they know how to listen, mediate, maintaining balance in the production area or among the kitchen staff. In a word, they manage not with force, but with authority.
Where men and women work together there is a higher level of respect and good manners.
There is still a long way to go. It will require tenacity, courage and a bit of luck, but today’s women pastry chefs show they have these qualities.
Twenty-one year old from Frosinone, Erika Biancucci is the female face directing the breakfasts of Italian and foreign customers of Love IT Milano. For Erika, pastry is a woman, recalling a female image.
And not just today. “Luisa Spagnoli is a person who links pastry and style, an entrepreneur with a fervid mind, an imagination focused on innovation. A daring woman, able to combine fashion and pastry”. In fact, the famous Perugian designer turned a Perugia grocery into a pastry shop.
She then began to produce chocolates and candies.
Sensing the cultural and economic value of the pastry world, together with other entrepreneurs she founded the Perugina Company for the production of candy.
The outbreak of war led Luisa Spagnoli to convert the company into a chocolate manufacturer.
When she noticed the large amount of scrapped hazelnut and gianduja, she created a chocolate with a particular shape containing a whole hazelnut and covered with dark chocolate called “Luisa”.
Thus was born the Cazzotto, a name which the partner Buitoni later changed to the better known Bacio.
On the other hand, many recipes of traditional sweets are linked to women whose personality are expressed in them.
“They are sweet thoughts that women also interpret in their erotic meaning”.
Erika is very young so she hasn’t experienced feminism and the sometimes harsh contrast between the male and female world, she sees the “pink” aspect of the confectionery art and is convinced that even when it is made by men it remains “woman”.
She doesn’t limit her work to the production area, but also organizes the entire confectionery production for a food experience store.
It means studying the production lines of a whole year, certifying the supply chain, simplifying a profession that has “impossible” schedules.
Erika is studying that laboratory of the future that will bring down the last taboo, that of pastry not allowing a woman to build a family. In reality it’s only a matter of organization!
Silvia Federica Boldetti
Silvia Federica Boldetti discovered her passion for pastry art after graduating in business.
She enrolled in the school of Gastronomic Sciences, entered as an intern at Cast Alimenti and transformed her dream into a profession practiced in the production area, but also writing.
In 2016 at Sigep in Rimini she representing Italy, challenging competitors from seven other countries.
Supported by three coaches – Davide Malizia, Gianluca Fusto and Mario Romani – she won the golden palm of “pink” pastry, becoming Pastry Queen.
She then became the first woman named as an AMPI Maestro.
Creative and bold, she experiences pastry as a tool to express one’s personality and attitudes.
“For me femininity manifests itself in harmony with the rest of the personality”.
She doesn’t believe that there are gender differences, as both men and women seek to establish themselves in order to realize their dreams.
The secret lies in never limiting yourself, believing in yourself, engaging with other professionals to develop your own original and unmistakable style.
“There may be discriminatory attitudes based on the fact that women have less physical strength, but this handicap can be offset by perseverance and tenacity”.
Her pastry is feminine, but Silvia Federica wants to focus above all on her “search for originality with respect to techniques, quality, and the healthy nature of the ingredients”.
In the future she hopes there will be greater participation of her female colleagues in international competitions, overcoming the obstacles associated with hard work that takes them away from their family commitments.
Giorgia Di Egidio
Giorgia Di Egidio, owner of the Giorgia pastry shop in Atri, claims to have brought her femininity to work with her as a pastry chef.
After discovering the beauty and goodness of licorice sweets, she decided to produce them with a feminine touch skillfully adding some spices.
All her sweets – from cantucci cookies with raisins, cinnamon, and chocolate chips to ravioli cookies with lemon and cardamom and gnocchi with saffron – bear her signature: a bow. Giorgia managed to become a pastry chef thanks to a feminine quality: stubbornness combined with creativity and always knowing how to find resources that help overcome possible deficiencies.
“I have celiac disease, but this was not a problem for me. It’s true I can’t taste many of my desserts, but I managed to overcome this weakness by enhancing my ability to find the right balance of ingredients using memory. Mine is a pastry of memory!”
Cooking and women in history
“I have only one passion in life: cooking”, wrote Virginia Woolf in a letter to Vita Sackville-West in 1929. A passion that the writer shared with many women of the time, recluses within impassable domestic walls. No wonder; food for women has always represented power, seduction, play, creativity.
Over the centuries men have procured it and women have cooked it. The home has long been the undisputed kingdom of women. Women decided the menu, the courses, the seating arrangement of the guests at the table.
Food became a weapon for rebelling, for claiming a freedom that was often denied by society. It could be refused or banquets could be used to participate in political life. It was a tool for acquiring a social role, therefore the beatification of many female saints involved a choice to fast. Domestic power was transformed into public power also thanks to food. In several tragedies Shakespeare described women’s attempts to become protagonists in politics. An example for all is Lady Macbeth, who organizes both a banquet and a political plot. It is Lady Macbeth who offers drugged drinks to the King’s guards, a gesture that emphasizes her control over food.
Equally skilled is Marcella Moutte, just 25 years old but already in charge of “Contemporary Recipes” at the Martesana pastry shop in Milan.
“Pastry is still the domain of men. Despite the skills you demonstrate on a daily basis, if you are a woman it will longer for them to be recognized.
Fortunately, the women who are getting into this profession are increasingly standing out thanks to their ability to employ two critical characteristics in the pastry shop: precision and cleanliness”.
Female food and wine publishing
Numerous cookbooks have been published, refined and complex for chefs, all men, and simple and easy for cooks, all women.
The first book published in Italy by a woman was written by Katharina Prato (pseudonym Pratovebera).
The text, Die süddeutsche Küche, was written in German in Austria in 1858.
It was an immediate success, even outside the Hapsburg borders.
In 1893 it was translated into Italian with the title “Cookbook for beginners and for experienced cooks”, translated by Attilia Visconti-Aparnik, cooking instructor for the home economics course at the civic women’s high school in Trieste.
In reality, the text is not a simple translation as it was expanded and rewritten to please Italian tastes.
The first recipe book written by an Italian woman was published in 1900: How can I eat well? Cookbook with over 1000 recipes for common foods, easy and cheap for healthy and delicate stomachs.
The author was Giulia Ferraris Tamburini, a countess who was already well known thanks to a text on how to keep the house tidy.
But the first bestseller wasn’t published until 1925.
With “The talisman of happiness” Ada Boni interpreted Fascist thought: the woman cooks delicacies, satisfies her husband sexually, and gives the country the lineage that will make Italy victorious.
In the Fascist era, Petronilla, the pseudonym of Amalia Moretti Foggia della Rovere, succeeded with various ideological aims.
With her multiple university degrees she got involved in journalism, writing two columns for Domenica del Corriere.
One column on medical subjects she signed as Amal, and the other on cooking she signed as Petronilla.
In 1935 she published a recipe book advising how to cook dishes rich in taste with low-cost ingredients, avoiding waste. With Petronilla publishing was opened to women.
Today there are numerous very successful cookbooks written by women.