Baking Pies Inspired By Italo Calvino

September 11, 2020

At the Paris Review, Valerie Stivers takes on a literary baking challenge: crafting pies inspired by the works of Italo Calvino, using ingredients culled from his books and family history. “I must have been high on his genius, creativity, and playfulness when I attempted to climb into the trees myself,” she writes, “and invent a series of Calvino-inspired pies, interlocking like the chapters of If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler and utilizing tree fruits and tree nuts from The Baron in the Trees. My plan also drew on a biographical note of Calvino’s: his parents were botanists, and his father pioneered the cultivation of exotic tree fruits in Italy, which made me feel that any tree fruit or nut was fair game. These high-concept pies would use new-to-me techniques such as chiffon, Italian meringue, chilled custard filling, blind-baked crusts, and pudding layers.”

is a writer and illustrator. She is the author of two illustrated books, Last Night's Reading (Penguin Books, 2015) and Sanpaku (Archaia 2018).