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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

An empowering and fun International Women's Day Celebration

Cari amici,

Yesterday was March 8th, International Woman’s Day, Festa delle Donne.
If you know me a little bit by now, you know that I believe that every day should be Woman’s Day, and so everyday should be Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day!! Love should be given everyday!!
But yesterday I was invited to be part of the celebration of Women’s Day by a dear friend, Italian radio DJ Rita Monte and her organization “Italian American Women Center”, so I did go and it was a lot of fun.

International Woman's Day:  (IWD) is marked on March 8 of every year. It is a major day of global celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women. It started as a political event but slowly the holiday blended in the culture of many countries.
Nowadays in Italy for instance, the day has lost its political flavor, and it’s simply an occasion for men to express their love to the women around them in a way somewhat similar to Mother's Day and St Valentine's Day mixed together. In other countries, however, the political and human rights theme as designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner.
The IWD is also celebrated as the first spring holiday, as in the listed countries the first day of March is considered the first day of the spring season. The first IWD was observed on 28 February 1909 in the United States following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. Among other relevant historic events, it came to commemorate also the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.
The building on fire
And this event was also brought to the attention at last night dinner. This was a horrible tragedy that cost the lives of 147 workers, manly Jewish and Italian women, mainly still in their teens killed by the fire or their desperate leaps to the ground to escape the heat and flames. This year Mach 25th 2011 will mark the one hundred anniversary of one of the most important events in the history of the U.S. labor movement. On that date, one hundred years ago, a fire broke out on the top three stories of a relatively new building just East of Washington Square Park, which housed the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, a large manufacturer of women’s clothes (a building which today houses New York University classrooms).
The tragedy
Though the building was modern and advertised as fire-proof, the cramped layout of the factory space, large piles of flammable materials, locked doors, inadequate fire escape, and the inability of New York City fire truck ladders to reach high enough to rescue the people trapped by the flames led to a staggering loss of life.

The first women's rights strikes
The idea of having an international women's day was first put forward at the turn of the 20th century amid rapid world industrialization and economic expansion that led to protests over working conditions, and events like this really gave more ground to it. By urban legend, women from clothing and textile factories staged one such protest on 8 March 1857 in New York City. The garment workers were protesting against very poor working conditions and low wages. The protesters were attacked and dispersed by police. These women established their first labor union in the same month two years later.

Yesterday night party was very inspiring and serious event but it was also a very outgoing and happy.
The menu
I went there with Maria Gallina, a dear friend of mine that picked me up. We were at the party on time even if we got lost 1 minute from the destination according to the GPS. So we had a lot of fun already in the car try to understand what was going on with the GPS, or Miss Julie as we named her. Thank God we stopped a woman on the street and she gave us the good directions, human beings still better than GPS apparently!!

The party was in a nice restaurant. They had arranged a private room for the attendees so we had some privacy. On the wall in the room they had put posters with some very the biography of some accomplished women that have with their talents and their dedications in their fields of work really changed the lives of so many women of future generations.  We could walk around and read them. Very empowering and was very interesting.

With Rita Monte & Vincenza Russo
The Italian American Women’s’ Center is a non profit organization dedicated to facilitates networking within the Italian American women’s community, to promote personal and professional development of women through seminars, educational programs and cultural exchanges, they also schedule outing to concerts, study tours and cultural and social events. They promote also the study of the Italian culture and language and they help to pursuit a higher education by providing mentoring programs and financial support in the form of scholarships.
A very dedicated group of women.
I understood last night that actually it is was the effort of the President of this organization, Vincenza Russo, a wonderful woman who’s also a great supporter of my music, that actually made possible that last year during the Italian Cultural Month celebration, for the first time a woman for chosen by the Italian Heritage and Culture Month Committee of New York. The theme of last year Italian Month celebration was indeed “A Salute to Italian and Italian American Women Honoring Dr. Maria Montessori”. As Vincenza said, we just have to try to accomplish something we really believe in and things will happen.
So I really enjoyed very much the inspiring night. Of course I also got to meet many new interesting people, like famous soprano and wonderful lady Mirella Sanseviero, Rosalba Campitiello, a very talented interior designer of the rich and famous and the very nice Felicia Gazzara, yes the cousin of my wonderful friend, actor Ben Gazzara. And of course I got to see again some people I had not seen in a while, like my dear friend Rita Monte, who invited me to the event.
With my friend Maria Gallina, Interior Designer of the rich and famous Rosalba Capitiello and famous soprano Mirella Sanseviero
Rita does a very popular radio program “Profumi D’Italia” and it was fun to get to meet some her listeners that have been listening to my music for a while and that I had never met before. Always nice.

With Rita and the Mimosa Cake
The dinner was great and it ended with the very traditional Italian Woman’s day cake: Torta Mimosa.

Well yellow was the color we were asked to wear, at least a hint of it. As you can see I wore foulard!!
If you wonder why yellow, well it’s because yellow is the color of the traditional flower that we have in Italy for woman’s day: the mimosa indeed.
In Italy, to celebrate this day, men give yellow mimosas to women.

With Mirella Sanseviero, Felicia Gazzara, Ida Corvino and Rita Monte

Last night there was no mimosa though for us. Actually I have never seen a Mimosa in the USA. Unfortunately it’s not growing in the USA!!

I have so many memories of this day. As a child it was the day that daddy was brining home Mimosas for his ladies: me, mom and grandma and so did also Grandpa Ruggero.
Later it is has been a moment to celebrate with “girlfriends” only. There are a lot of parties for women’ only!! You can imagine the madness and the fun of those parties!! Men are aloud in only after midnight! And what happen at those parties before midnight: stays at those party!!
Only one thing to say: for me the fun was to see the so colled”good girls” of the village going wild and behind and fighting for the first row for the Chippendale ‘s show!! That was the Show in the show for me!!!
With wonderful Rita and Maria
And since yesterday I have also an American memory of this day, a very inspirational and fun one for sure. If women stick together they can rule the world and man are of course all the way there to rule with us!! I’m definitely not a feminist and I believe that respect among men and women is the key of harmony, peace and success!! Respect and unity one to another.

And since you may want to try the delicious Woman’s Day Cake: Torta Mimosa, here is how to make it:
Mimosa cake
Mimosa Cake, a sweet treat filled with a delicious cream and flavored with Italian lemon.
Servings 8
For sponge cake
2 ½ oz all-purpose flour
2 ½ oz potato starch
5 oz sugar
6 eggs
For Chantilly cream
2 cups milk
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
3 ½ oz sugar
1 oz all-purpose flour
1 lemon zest
½ stick vanilla
7 oz cream
1 ¾ oz powdered sugar
For syrup
1 cup water
½ cup Kirsch (dry cherry liqueur)
3 oz sugar
1 hour and 30 minutes preparation
To make sponge cake, whisk the eggs and sugar in a mixer until firm. 
Then gently fold in, little by little, the flour and potato starch, sieved together, using a spatula. 
Once the mixture is smooth, pour it into 2 cake tins, that have been buttered and floured; then bake at 325° F for 45 minutes. 
Once cooked, allow the sponge cakes to cool.
While the sponge is in the oven, make the Chantilly cream, by mixing the whipped cream with confectioner’s custard. See below on how to make the confectioner’s custard.
Whip the cream with the powdered sugar, and then put it in the refrigerator.
Make the confectioner’s custard as follows. Cut the vanilla pod lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and put them in a bowl. 
Using a potato peeler, take the zest off a lemon, being careful not to take any of the white part underneath. In a pot, bring the milk to the boil with the vanilla seeds and the lemon zest. 
As soon as the milk starts boiling, remove from heat. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks with the sugar. 
Add the flour, previously sieved, and mix well.
Once the mixture is smooth, dilute it with a bit of warm milk, stirring while adding. Pour the remaining milk through a sieve to remove the lemon zest. 
Put back the mixture over the heat and cook over a low heat for 5 - 10 minutes stirring continuously, allowing it to boil for 2 – 3 minutes.
Remove the custard from the heat and allow it to cool. 
Once the confectioner’s custard is cold, fold it in the whipped cream.
To make the syrup, to be used to soak the sponge. Bring to boil a mixture of water and sugar so that the latter dissolves. Once dissolved, remove from the heat and add some Kirsch.
When all the ingredients are ready, assemble the cake as described below.
Step 1
Cut one sponge into horizontal layers about 0.4 inches thick.

Step 2
Line a glass bowl about 8 inches in diameter with bands of baking paper. Arrange a layer of sponge on the bottom of the bowl.

Step 3
Using a small brush soak the sponge with the Kirsch syrup.

Step 4
Spread a layer of Chantilly cream on top of the sponge and cover with another slice of sponge. Repeat the operation for 3 sponge layers. Then, put the cake in the refrigerator and allow it to rest for 30 minutes or so.

Step 5
Cut the second sponge into dices 0.2 - 0.4 inches in size.

Step 6
Turn out the cake onto a plate.

Step 7
Coat the outside of the cake with the remaining cream.

Step 8
Spread the sponge dices over the top of the cake to cover the entire cake.

So Happy Cake to you all and W the women and the men who loves us too!!


  1. I quote this one "Thank God we stopped a woman on the street and she gave us the good directions, human beings still better than GPS apparently!!"

    I always get lost when I use GPS. I even come to places where I am not supposed to come by car. (I once ended up at the central station of Den Haag between the busses). I prefer a map instead. When I'm lost I just park my car, look where I am and take my map to see which way to go. Or I just park my car at those huge maps we have here when arriving into a city. For me that is just the best way.
    Driving with GPS takes practise ;-)

  2. Oh! Giada, always so interesting your "investigation" about what you face and taste.... I love the way you describe all the things and important details (!) and the good dose of humor!!!!! :D :D

    That's so weird to know that Mimosa is not growing in US.... - even if I don't like a lot this kind of flower - anyway it's always a very nice and kind symbol of LOVE!!!!

    Thanks for posting your blog so Wonderfully!!!


  3. Dear Giada,

    Thanks to share with us your activities, your experience and informations about lot of subjects :-)

    I didn't know the story of the IWD, and of the tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Very interesting to discover new infos...

    I'm happy to read that the "Italian American Women’s’ Center" can help in different ways the American Italian's women :-) Great for all of them !

    Because i'am not italian i didn't know about the Mimosa's cake... So, when i will come in Usa to see you... hope u will prepare one for me ;-) Lol

    And of i know you better... and i know the place that love takes in your life...just because you are "un amour" ;-)

    Love u my dear friend


  4. Who can worried u,and who can love u so much,who can support u,and who can encourage u in all worries,who can live for u,she is one and only the best mother and the best women in the world....happy womens day...from..
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