If you feel a bit sexy after indulging in tiramisu, you’re not alone.
Italians believe tiramisu is a strong aphrodisiac, and once you know it’s erotic history you’ll understand why.
Tiramisu was invented inside brothels in the gorgeous northern Italian town of Treviso, renowned for its sexually relaxed mores and pleasure-seeking inhabitants.
In Italian, tiramisu literally means “pull me up, lift me up”, or, more literally, “pull it up”.
The ancient Latins had a motto: Dulcis in Fundo, meaning the best, yummiest treat always comes at the end of something, usually after a meal.
But not tiramisu. It’s more than a simple dessert. For centuries, up until 1958 when brothels were shut by the government, the cake was served to reinvigorate exhausted clients inside so-called “casino” (closed whorehouses) non-stop: Before, during and after heavy and multiple sex sessions to keep them going and the money flowing.
The more tiramisu swallowed, the more flourishing the prostitution business was. “Hardly anyone, not even the majority of Italians, know its real origins. Italy’s most potent turn-on is a brothel cake all the world loves and venerates”, says local Lara Santi, a tourist PR.
How good is Tiramisu? Picture: Matt LoxtonSource:News Corp Australia
Treviso, a maze of cobbled alleys crossing streams and watermills, has been dubbed since the middle ages “Italy’s happiness and sex kingdom”. Its people, not as God-fearing as those in the rest of the country, have always had a knack for “amorous” activities.
The city is now exploiting its fame as a sexy food spot, cashing-in on its global gourmet reputation through “erotic guided tours” highlighting kinky-sounding bistros like the “Red Shadows”, old brothels and other dens of vice where couples used to (some still do) perform threesomes and swaps.
The beautiful canals of the sordid Italian town of Treviso.Source:Supplied
Visitors are also taken to the restaurant-hotel that first exported the tiramisu recipe outside restricted sex places in the 1960s after brothels were banned.
Italy’s iconic dessert as we know it today is made of layers of Savoiardi ladyfingers biscuits dipped one by one in a whipped mixture of mascarpone cream cheese and a fine blend of different coffee powders. Some chefs add Marsala wine and a sprinkle of chocolate powder.
It’s a harmony of flavours that triggers ecstasy, and not just in the mouth.
The original brothel recipe however was slightly different, more simple. It was called “sbatudìn” which literally means “gimme a shake, bang me”.
The “sbatudìn” was an energetic mixture said to be able to raise even the dead from the grave. It was made of shaken egg yolk and sugar, and still nowadays Italian mothers give babies cupfuls of it to make them grow strong and macho.
Rumour has it that tiramisu-making was a team play. When brothels had their weekly closing day clients would pop up anyway and started bringing an ingredient to add to the “sbatudìn”. The merchant gifted the lady sex workers with coffee grains, the artisan with mushy biscuits and the bourgeois with pieces of grinded chocolate and pots of mascarpone.
Prostitutes and clients had lunch together, chatted and got aroused in anticipation looking forward to the end of the meal when tiramisu was finally served. Each was proud of their input.
Devouring the cake was the cue: Once everyone had gulped down the portion, it was time to move to the bedroom and get kinky.
In Treviso, visiting a brothel regularly was like a status symbol. It was part of the local culture, the get-together of VIPs. If a gentleman never showed up to take part in the Tiramisu tasting sessions and sexy evenings, he was a loser and an outcast.
The town of Treviso has a saucy history.Source:Supplied
When the government shut all “pleasure-houses” the legacy of tiramisu lived on thanks to the wit of one lady and her dear husband, who had probably visited at least once in his life a “casino” and fell in love with the sex cake, thinking the recipe should not go lost.
The lady at that time was pregnant and after giving birth to a baby boy, she tested “sbatudìn” and found it restored her body after labour. Then, together with a cook, she perfected the recipe and started making it inside her restaurant and serving it for the first time to people who had never set foot in a brothel.
Today you can visit the tavern of tiramisu’s rebirth as a “common” cake. It’s located in Treviso’s most ancient piazza and is called Le Beccherie. The name has two meanings: in local dialect it means both “carnage” and “cuckold’s lair”, says farmer Paolo Manzan.
How the Tiramisu is served at Le Beccherie.Source:Supplied
A modern tantalising variant has been created called ‘De-structured tiramisu’ with crumbly chocolate biscuits and a slightly salty taste. Other taverns are battling to claim the paternity of the orgasmic dessert. In order to meet rising demand, bars in town now use draft tiramisu machines that prepare the cake in two seconds making it ooze out like an espresso.
Times might have changed but bad habits die hard. Scattered across the tiny medieval centre of Treviso are lavish palazzos that were once brothels. And despite the fact that they’ve been illegal for decades, there are houses that have kept their original sex mission. One is just behind the mayor’s office and recently police uncovered a network of secret brothels.
Truth is that in Treviso several whorehouses have always stayed open but as “underground” hot spots away from mainstream society, known to the few (or many?) clients who still visit.
“We love having fun, this has always been our vocation. Pleasure is part of our history and tradition”, says the owner of a local Treviso tavern, Denis Mistro.