Confectionery boxes tell
Situated in Pinerolo near Torino, the Centro Studi Pasticceria Internazionale (Research Centre on International Confectionary) offers an overview of the patrimony of artisanal confectionary. This has been made possible owing to a collection of tools and equipment from yesteryear, prints illustrating past productions, advertising posters, tin boxes, old books, contemporary books, magazines from around the world, old prints, and recent photo albums and slides.
The research centre is under continual development and it is a dynamic and well-documented organization. Since 1950, it is this cultural framework that has been at the heart of Chiriotti Editori.
“We are but dwarves upon the shoulders of giants”. Its meaning is perfectly clear, given the strong imagery it evokes. On the one hand there is smallness, our fragile existence, and above all the limits of our knowledge. On the other hand there is the giant who represents the continuation of centuries of history, social life, work, study, research – in a word: culture in its broadest possible sense. It is only by standing resolutely, without slouching, upon the shoulders of the giant, and sticking to it as if we were plunging roots into its powerful body, that we can enjoy the height that the giant provides. In other words, only by adopting and making our own, in the vastest possible way, the knowledge handed down to us from centuries of evolution in all fields, will we be able to take full advantage of the giant, thus creating a single body, so to speak. By contrast, should we ignore this culture, this source of tradition and innovation, then dwarves we shall remain.
This preface, this figurative way of speaking, helps me emphasise the need for cultural depth; by this I mean the development and growth of culture. In our artisanal sector, the word ‘culture’ does not only refer to the study of books or the research of theoretical knowledge, it also refers to practice, experimentation, laboratory training, management studies, and the management of small business on a global scale. However, both instances are supported by a medium that has enclosed and handed down, through the centuries, all forms of knowledge: the book. It could be said that the written word has recorded knowledge that would otherwise have disappeared, knowledge that practice alone would not always have been able to convey; but more importantly still, this practice does not always know how to motivate. Books past and present, manuals, and magazines from Italy and countless other nations, all represent an undeniable reference point for confectionary, and indeed for any other sector of practice or specialist study. Books represent the fuel that lead to the evolution of our profession and our personality.
Alongside this documentation, there are a number of objects that have contributed to the greatness, over the centuries, of our confectionary sector, all of which help us understand how confectionary has evolved. These include tools and equipment of yesteryear, prints illustrating old productions, the first advertising posters, postcards, and tin boxes containing small chocolates and caramels. Books, magazines from around the world, videocassettes, old prints, recent photo albums and slides, and collections of utensils that were used in the past, all create a databank that refers both to past and to present. All of these articles have gradually been accumulated in our editorial office, during more than forty years of “Pasticceria Internazionale”, and they represent a patrimony, unique in Italy, that helps make up the Centro Studi Pasticceria Internazionale.
More than one thousand volumes on confectionary, chocolate, and ice-cream, of which two hundred or so are old or rare editions; more than one hundred specialist magazines that regularly arrive from around the world; a photo library, a video library, and a small museum to record and illustrate, especially to the young, the evolution of confectionary art; the entire archive of the editorial material from the first issue to today, catalogues from companies and salons in Italy and Europe, and a large amount of data, statistics and specialist and collateral information, all go to create the current patrimony of the research centre. But what makes our research centre more dynamic and well documented is its cultural framework, which since 1950 has been at the base of Chiriotti Editori.
The material at the Centro Studi Pasticceria, although collected independently, represents part of the vast amount of literature on food technology. Above all, it facilitates those who need to consult the texts (from confectioners to company technicians, from students at vocational training schools to journalists, researchers, and university students with theses in commodities, food science and the like) in view of the fact that they have at their disposal information that is not solely specific to a single sector. The continual connection with other European magazines enables the use of information which otherwise would be difficult to come by. In this way the research centre and the Pasticceria Internazionale editorial office go hand in hand, and it has been structured such as to provide greater attention to the sector, especially from a cultural point of view. It is a question of collecting information so that it does not become dispersed, adding to the library, the newspaper library and the museum, and looking to the past in order to discover our roots and head decisively towards new future goals in order to be able to continue to grow together. We have placed this small but significant patrimony at the disposal of artisan confectioners and we have used it for our own consultation. It has been enthusiastically catalogued over the years with the knowledge that there was still a lot to do and document, yet with a desire to use the research centre to provide an albeit small contribution to the category.
For those interested (professionals only), it is possible to consult books and magazines and to visit the collection of old equipment at the research centre. Booking is required.