Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Columbus Menu

Few things are as famous as "la buona tavola" of the Italians. However, that notorious "buon mangiare" it was not so before the discovery of America. Many of the icons of Italian cuisine are really possible thanks to the contributions that they came from the New World and without which Italian food definitely not be the same.


Looking in my books something to say on the occasion of October 12, I found this book that I do not remember how or when acquired and had not even read. The book is Columbus Menu. Italian Cuisine after the First Voyage of Christopher Columbus , Stefano Milioni, published in 1992 by the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade. As expected the booklet I came in handy to write about the date on my blog, and reading convinced me that, whatever may have been the reason I got it was certainly a good decision.

Columbus Menu explained how they were introduced to Europe after Columbus's voyage, as basic foods such as corn, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, pumpkins, cocoa, and even turkeys. The author refers to the introduction dates, or at least the first evidence of its existence in different areas, each of these genres. Its earliest uses, which in many cases were ornamental, magical or aphrodisiacs, and then also the first references and recipes in old cookbooks European regions.

Interestingly, the book highlights the differences between the use of these products in Europe, and specifically in Italy. While in other parts of the old continent as a delicacy adicionaban more to the table, in Italy were used to create new dishes, mixing old items with new arrivals and giving life to a new and tasty variant.
Tomatoes , for example, how important it is for Italian cuisine, according to the author:
[...] reached Italy, officially at least, in the 17th century. It was Brought into the country by the English but They did not at the same time introduce any culinary preparations in Which the fruit was employed . (Milioni, 1992, p.12)
Milioni (p.13) says that apparently was in Sicily where he began to use a good amount of chopped tomatoes in the water they were boiled macaroni or vermicelli.
otherwise Corn part, the seeds were introduced in Spain by Columbus returned from his first trip in 1493, it began to be cultivated in Europe until about 1520, and thanks to some varieties of the plant that took away from Mexico. News are given the introduction of maize in the region of Veneto, Italy, from 1530, and the cultivation of this grain originated the polenta, another pillar of Italian gastronomy.
same fate among Italians potato. Discovered by the conquerors of Peru, was taken to Mexico and from there to Europe. The author states that: The first authentic scientific description of the potato has been credited to the Dutch botanist Charles de L├ęcluse, who is better Known by the name Clusius. While I was Residing in Vienna in 1588, I received two tubers from the governor of Mons in what is today Belgium. The gift was Accompanied by a watercolor, que was the first official drawing of the potato.

(Milioni, 1992, p. 34) The potato entered Italy since 1560, Milioni tells us in his book, and had a pretty bad start: ornamental first and as animal feed after. It was not until 1801 that the fifth edition of Il Cuoco Galante published a list of possible uses of the potato as food for humans, including pulpetas (polpette), mashed, similar to polenta, grilled or stuffed with butter. This paper also published the first recipe and potato gnocchi with egg yolks and beef fat ricotta cheese. The following recipes were this much simpler, and I think the road was long to reach these gnocchi in packages that can currently buy in the supermarket. That was just the dish I prepared for this entry: potato gnocchi, but with tomato , basil and feta cheese.

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