Bagna Cauda (in standard Italian and in Piedmontese bagna càuda – pronunciation: ‘baña cáuda’) is the typical dish par excellence of Piedmont. It is a winter dish, a starter or main course, a speciality of ancient Piedmont, similar to a fondue, because the base is a sauce, and you can dip things in it.
If you make this recipe, you can accompany it at the end with my traditional recipe of Limoncello!
In this article you will find
The origin of the name Bagna Cauda
We know that bagna caoda derives from the two terms ‘bagna’, which in Piedmontese means sauce or broth, and ‘caoda’, which means hot: hence hot sauce.
Bagna Cauda is a widespread and multifaceted recipe
The interesting thing about this recipe is that although it is of Italian origin, with the colonisation of territories such as Argentina, Brazil or the United States, the recipe also arrived. And as the people had other types of vegetables and food, they created their own versions of the dish.
The Piedmontese version of Bagna Cauda and its historical origins
In Piedmont, it is prepared with anchovies, oil and garlic and is used as a sauce for fresh vegetables in the autumn season. As it is a hearty dish, it is usually considered as a main course, but sometimes it can also be served as an appetizer at a dinner with friends… In fact, in ancient times, it was during gatherings and dinners with friends that this dish was prepared, and over time it has become a symbol of friendship and joy. In reality, the origins of bagna caoda are shrouded in mystery, as it is not known exactly when, where and by whom this dish was invented, and it does not even have a city of residence, but it is known that the winemakers of the late Middle Ages adopted this recipe to celebrate a very important event such as the gleaning of the new wine.
A ‘poor man’s dish’ and therefore ignored by international cuisine for a long time
For a long time, bagna caoda remained the dish only of the poor and peasants, as the aristocrats abhorred it because of the abundance of garlic. With the passage of time, this dish has been revalued and, today, many trattorias and restaurants, especially in Piedmont, offer bagna caoda on their menus.
The role of the ”anciué”
Anchovies, thanks to the itinerant anciués who transported them in barrels or in the large multicoloured tins of 10 or more kilos, could be bought by the peasant families in small weekly quantities.
In the past, salt was a very precious good and sometimes more expensive than other foodstuffs, so families preferred to obtain salt from salted fish, rather than buying salt directly.
How to prepare bagna cauda according to the traditional Piedmontese recipe
6 glasses of extra virgin olive oil and, if possible, a small glass of walnut oil,
600 grams of red anchovies from Spain.
Cut the garlic cloves, previously stripped of their shoots.
Put the garlic in an earthenware casserole, add a glass of oil and start cooking over very low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon and taking care that they do not brown.
Then add the desalted and de-boned anchovies, washed in red wine and dried, stirring gently.
Cover with the remaining oil and cook the sauce over low heat for half an hour, making sure that the sauce does not get cold.
At the end of cooking, if a milder flavor is desired, you can add a small piece of very fresh butter.
Pour the bagna into the corresponding “fujot”, small earthenware or terracotta ovens, and accompany it with the following vegetables: raw cardoons from Nice, Jerusalem artichokes, white cabbage hearts, endive and chicory, fresh peppers and peppers with tail, raw onions pickled and bathed in Barbera wine; cooked red beets, boiled potatoes, roasted onions, fried pumpkin, roasted peppers.
It is traditional to collect the “thick bagna” at the end by scrambling an egg in it.
What should the ingredients of bagna cauda piamontesa be like?
Anchovies should preferably be “Spanish red anchovies”, so called because of their origin and the colour that their flesh acquires after perfect and prolonged salting, seasoned for at least one year. Avoid using anchovies in fillets in jars.
The oil should be extra virgin olive oil, preferably from Liguria.
Bagna Cauda should be kept at a high temperature, but should not be fried or smoked. It is eaten by dipping raw autumn vegetables in it, among which the coveted white thistle, the “gobbo” of Nizza Monferrato and raw or roasted peppers are protagonists.
Then raw cabbage, baked red beet, topinabò – Jerusalem artichoke -, boiled potato, cabbage, endive or chicory hearts, spring onion, boiled cauliflower and any other vegetable you want to try. All fall vegetables are fine, but many gourmets avoid the more aromatic ones such as celery or fennel.
Peppers can be eaten fresh, “cut into ribs”, or pickled in the smujà version.
Some people also add spicy or chilli, to give an extra touch to the Bagna Cauda.
Although there is an infinite number of types of pizza in the world, the most classic is the Neapolitan Pizza, from Naples, Italy, whose history can be read in our article on the history of pizza. The pizza Margherita is the most famous of the Neapolitan pizzas and has a curious origin.
Legend has it that the Margherita pizza was created in Naples on an occasion when the Queen consort Margherita of Savoy was visiting. To honour her, a pizza maker from Naples made a pizza in the colours of Italy. He used tomato for red, mozzarella for white and basil for the green colour of the Italian flag.
The reference unit is 1 litre of water, from which the proportions of all other ingredients derive.
Therefore for 1 litre of water:
1 litre of water
50 – 55 gr of salt.
4 g fresh brewer’s yeast (1 g is sufficient for dry yeast, but should not be used in the original recipe)
1.7/1.8 kg of flour type 000
How should the ingredients be?
Water: There are no particular restrictions, you can use tap water, the temperature must be in the range of 20-22 degrees Celsius and the pH value must be 6 or 7. Of course, we are talking about still, clean water, without substances or microorganisms harmful to humans.
Flour: The flour must be soft wheat 000 medium strength, with a value between W 280 and W 320. The strength of the flour is determined by a number of properties such as the degree of water absorption and the amount of protein. Strength flours absorb more water, so the more strength the flour has, the less quantity is needed to achieve the desired effect.
Yeast: Fresh brewer’s yeast or dry/compressed yeast can be used. Depending on the season, you will use less yeast in summer and more yeast in winter
Salt: Table salt.
Pour all the water and salt into a bowl or the container of a kneading machine (for those who have one), stirring so that it dissolves well, to facilitate the maturing of the dough.
Once this is done, add a small amount of flour (about 10% or a spoon) and finally the yeast. Start spinning with a spoon (use the slowest speed with the dough mixer) until the yeast has dissolved.
Then gradually pour in the rest of the flour, and always knead with the ladle so that it is completely absorbed by the water. This process should not take longer than 10 minutes.
With the automatic kneader, continue to work the dough again at minimum speed for another 20 minutes or so, while for the others it is time to use their hands, as the ladle can no longer be used.
Note: For kneading, the use of hands or a double speed kneader with arms or dipping fork is allowed. The automatic kneader allows for better aeration of the dough, but also for greater overheating of the dough, with the consequent risk of disintegration of the gluten.
With the left hand we keep the bowl firm (it is always better to keep one hand clean, in case we need to add other ingredients) and with the right hand we start kneading.
The movement should be circular, take the dough from below, lift it, bring it back and crush it firmly with the palm down.
Continue with this movement until all the flour has been absorbed, and the dough has come off the walls of the bowl (in the jargon it is said to be strung).
Prepare a floured pastry board and transfer the dough, continuing to knead with both hands this time, for at least fifteen minutes. The movement should be the same as the one used in the bowl but made with two hands, never tear the dough because it would ruin the already formed gluten net.
We knead until it acquires a soft and elastic consistency. The dough should be moist to the touch, but at the same time, it should not stick to the hands. If the fingers are slightly dipped in the dough and the holes are slowly recomposed, then the dough is ready.
Cover it with a damp cloth and place it in a draught-free location (the air dries the dough forming a surface crust) and, if possible, at a temperature between 24 and 27 degrees Celsius.
Note: Given the small amount of yeast used, it takes about 2 hours before the dough is well leavened.
Once the dough has doubled in size, we can move on to the next phase, which consists of “compacting our dough, working with both hands as if we had to knead it again, only this time you will have to be more delicate, as you will only have to give it the classic “bread wheel” shape.
Now we can start forming the “panetti” (or “balls”), this phase is called “staglio”, the specification of the Neapolitan pizza says that the weight of one of them can vary from 180 to 250 grams (depending on the diameter of the pizza disk we want to get, on average 30-35 cm).
Weigh each piece of dough that we extract from the dough and form our dough by rolling it up in our hands, and close it at the base, place it in a container, which must be covered for the next leavening phase.
The next phase is the ”appretto”: the buns must be leavened for at least another 4 hours which can be as long as 6 hours in the coldest periods of the winter. In the end, this dough can be used for the next 6 hours.
Final shaping of the pizza
On a uniform surface covered with a veil of flour, use the fingers of both hands, with a movement that gives the idea of pushing the air contained in the dough towards the edges, pressing and turning it several times.
Note: the central part should not be more than half a centimetre thick, while the edge should be between 1 and 2 cm high.
Remember that the original recipe does not allow the use of any tools at this stage, such as rollers or the disc pressing machine.
Preparation of the Margherita Pizza
Ingredients for a Margherita pizza with a diameter of 30-35 cm.
tomato puree 500 ml
Buffalo mozzarella or Fior di latte 600 gr.
4/5 Basil leaves
Extra virgin olive oil q.b.
1 pizza dough
To start, pour the tomato puree into a bowl and season with 2 teaspoons of oil and a little salt.
Spread the pizza dough with the tomato puree, then the coarsely chopped mozzarella, three basil leaves and finally a dash of oil. You will have to add it with a rather quick movement, made in a spiral, starting from the centre of the disk.
Cooking: A Neapolitan DOC pizza should be cooked in a wood-fired oven for 60-90 seconds at a temperature of 485 degrees centigrade.
Although the Neapolitan tradition does not (obviously) provide for the use of electric ovens if an electric oven is used a temperature of 250 degrees should be set.
If you use an electric oven before seasoning the pizza, place the base on a baking tray greased with a little oil so that it does not stick.
4. In a normal or electric oven, bake the pizza for about 10 minutes.
The pizza is cooked when the edge and the middle acquire the typical leopard spot pigmentation, the real Neapolitan pizza never has a uniform colour. If this happens it is a sign of low oven temperature and/or a poor ripening/leavening of the dough.
It is important to rotate the pizza during baking, to avoid burnt areas.
Once the Margherita pizza is cooked, take it out and serve it immediately.
No need for presentation. There is no doubt pizza is the most famous food in the world, there is no country that does not serve it (even if in its own version), and there is no person who does not know it. It is eaten by the youngest to the oldest.
It also has no contraindications, except if you are allergic to gluten but that can also be substituted.
According to the etymological dictionary of the Italian language, the word pizza comes from the words pigiare, or pestare; and synonymous with schiacciare in Italian which means to push, step and crush. It probably refers to the dough that is then cooked.
In that sense the word pizza means something crushed or stepped on.
It can also come from the word in Spanish “pisar”. Naples was a port where people from many different backgrounds arrived and so constantly acquired new words.
A piece of bread
Other scholars say that the origin of the word could be German. Because they compare the derivation from Old German bizzo to pizza. In modern German it is bissen and it means slice or bite. A piece or bite of bread.
There is also the theory that the word pizza comes from the word pita, which in many countries with Arab influence is a flattened piece of bread the size of a hand, that is eaten stuffed.
We do not know what the etymology of pizza really is. What we do know is that the first references to pizza speak of a cake or dough that can be sweet, salty or stuffed. Because the word pizza at that time referred to cakes in general.
History of Pizza
Probably, pizza is something that came up naturally. Agriculture began around 8,000 years ago in the geographical area known as the ‘Fertile Crescent’. This area lies between Iran and Iraq and it was here that wheat was ‘domesticated’ for the first time in history.
It would not be unusual for someone to have thought of putting flour mixed with water on a metal plate and that on the fire, perhaps with some ingredient on top.
The poet Virgil (70-19 BC) mentions a raised bread in his poem Aeneid.
Avean poche vivande; e quelle poche
Gran forme di focacce e di farrate
In vece avean di tavole e di quadre,
E la terra medesma e i solchi suoi
Ai pomi agresti eran fiscelle e nappi.
They had little food, and those few
Large forms of focaccia and spelt
They had boards and squares in place,
And the land itself and its furrows
On the rural knobs, there were fish and tassels.
An edible dish
From the beginning, pizza was cooked in the form of a plate so that food could be served on it. Perhaps to fight hunger and fill up with bread, as we sometimes do today.
Time passes and habits are maintained.
Why was it born in Naples?
Because the population was very poor and needed consistent and affordable food. A population that in the 18th and 19th centuries was so dense that it had to eat in the streets.
The daughter of the focaccia
Focaccia means in English ‘loaf’, which refers to a large loaf of bread. It is almost certain that the ancestor of pizza was the focaccia of Roman times. At that time it was very common to prepare focaccia made with spelt, a particular type of wheat used by the Romans (the word “flour” comes from the Latin farris, spelt).
The poet Virgil tells us that the farmers used to grind the spelt grains, sift the flour obtained, mix it with water, aromatic herbs and salt, and grind it to make it fine, giving it the classic round shape. The libum, or placenta, obtained in this way, was cooked with the heat from the ashes of the fireplace.
Before pizza as we know it, we had to discover America
The pizza was initially seasoned with white sauce.
“The most ordinary pizzas, called with garlic and oil, have the oil as a condiment, and on it is sprinkled, in addition to salt, oregano and minced garlic cloves. Others are covered with grated cheese and seasoned with lard, and then basil leaves are placed on top. The former are usually topped with tiny fish; the latter with thin slices of mozzarella. Sometimes we use sliced ham, pomidoro (tomato), arselle, etc. Sometimes, when the paste is folded over, it forms what is called calzone”.
Francesco De Bourcard, Usi e costumi di Napoli e contorni descritti e dipinti (1853), Vol. II, page 124
A fundamental ingredient of modern pizza is the tomato, but it arrived in Italy from Peru after the discovery of America.
When it arrived in Europe, the tomato was used as an ornamental piece and was considered toxic.
It took more than a century for the tomato to be accepted and added to the pizza. It is now the 18th century and we are approaching the birth of the Margarita pizza.
Birth of the Pizza Margarita
The extreme poverty of Naples and the fact that pizza is the local dish par excellence kept writers and food historians away from pizza for a long time.
Everything changed with the unification of Italy. It is now 1800, with King Umberto I at the head. The King’s wife was called Margherita of Savoy.
Legend has it that in June 1889 Queen Margherita visited Naples. At that time, a pizzaiolo named Raffaele Esposito from the Pizzeria ‘Brandi’ wanted to pay her homage. And he did so with a pizza made with ingredients in the colours of the new Italian flag: green, white and red. For this he carefully chose basil or basil, buffalo mozzarella and tomato.
The French novelist Alexandre Dumas, the author of ‘The Three Musketeers’ was in Naples in 1830 and wrote that ”there are pizzas with oil, with different fats, with cheese, with tomatoes, and pizzas with different fish’’.
This is one of the first literary testimonies we have about pizza.
Worldwide expansion of pizza
While Italy was in the process of unification, and when the tomato, mozzarella and basil pizza was being named Pizza Margherita, there was a strong emigration of Italian citizens to various countries of the world, especially to the United States.
In 1905 the first American pizzeria was opened in New York. In the 1920s and 1930s, they became restaurants and spread throughout the United States. Ike Sewell and Riccardo in 1943 created a Chicago-style pizza at Pizzeria Uno.
During World War II, the soldiers brought with them a taste for pizza from Italy, accelerating its popularity. The first commercial pizza mix was “Roman Pizza Mix”, produced in Worcester, Massachusetts by Frank A. Fiorello.
The art of the Neapolitan pizza maker, a UNESCO intangible heritage
Since 2017 the traditional art of Neapolitan pizzaiolo has been recognised as part of the cultural heritage of mankind.
It is a culinary practice that includes several stages, including the preparation of the dough, a turning movement made by the pizza chef and baking in a wood-fired oven.
The art of the Neapolitan pizza maker was born in Naples, where some 3000 pizzaiuoli live and work. The recognition of UNESCO brings pizza, one of the most loved and consumed foods in the world, to the Olympus of national and international cuisine and identifies the art of the Neapolitan pizza maker as an expression of a culture.
Pizza reversals around the world, from chocolate to sushi pizza
There are around 500 styles of pizza in the world. The site pizzarecipe.org organised them on its website.
By looking at how many pizzas there are and how varied they are, we realise how much pizza is used around the world as an eating dish, to be seasoned with the preferred ingredients of the country where it is found.
Here the pizzas are usually the spiciest in the world, because at the same time as using tomato sauce, chili sauce is used. For example, the Chicken Pizza, with jam, goat cheese, chicken, hot peppers, cardamom, and fennel.
There are places where pizza is known only recently, such as in China, where the first pizzerias opened in the 1990s. Until then, cheese and tomatoes were almost unknown.
Therefore, instead of tomato sauce, an Asian sauce is often used. Since 2000, pizza has become increasingly popular and more and more chains and restaurants have opened there.
A rarity of Chinese pizza is the ”pizza with pork chili sauce” with hoisin sauce, glazed pork, roasted sesame seeds, spring onions, garlic.
In America, many different variants of pizza have emerged. Some are quite similar to the Neapolitan pizza types, but use much more cheese. For example the New York Slice pizza is the most popular and most similar to a Neapolitan margarita. Other variants, however, are hardly based on their Italian ancestors. So there is the Chicago pizza, which reminds more of a cake. Pizza Hut and Domino’s are the largest pizza delivery services and restaurant operators in the US.
In Japan, pizza has been known since the 1970s. It is almost always served with tabasco sauce and seafood as a topping. Often, side dishes such as chips, salad or soup are served. Sometimes, instead of tomato sauce, mayonnaise is also used as a base. In Japan, there are also some pizzas for dessert. These are sweet and covered with chocolate, honey or strawberries.
Cheese and Honey Pizza: Cream cheese, Gorgonzola, Parmesan, Small cherry tomatoes, Parsley, Honey.
It is the country where the highest percentage of pizzas per person is consumed. Pizza is the unofficial national dish. There is also the so-called traditional pizza called “lørdagspizza“, which means Sunday pizza. Lørdagspizza is covered with tomato sauce, minced meat and lots of cheese and baked in the pan. Besides lørdagspizza, a lot of frozen pizza is eaten.
Similar to China’s example, pizza in Russia did not spread until the 1990s. Around the year 2000, the first Italian pizzerias were opened. After that, a true pizza culture was born. And more and more exotic and expensive ingredients such as truffle, caviar, dried meat and aged cheese have been used. Wealthy Russian customers became enthusiastic and fell in love with Italian pizza. One example is the salmon and caviar pizza: sour cream, smoked salmon, black caviar, golden caviar, freshly chopped dill, onion, olive oil.
Classic Neapolitan pizza recipe
Although there may be as many versions of pizza as there are pizzerias in the world, there is only one Neapolitan pizza that is accepted by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (Association of the real Neapolitan Pizza)
This recipe is followed by the best pizzerias in Naples. Walking through their alleys, you often find this symbol on the windows of the pizzerias:
This logo indicates that the pizzeria follows the discipline of the real Neapolitan pizza.
Strict rules must be followed for the preparation of the Neapolitan pizza. The association says that the slightest change of recipe could alter the quality of the final product. To be able to use the logo it is obligatory for all ingredients to be from Campana.
A typical and international dish
Although born in Naples, the word pizza is known in almost all languages of the world and is part – with its variations – of international gastronomy, with adaptations to the preferred ingredients of all countries where it is consumed.
Pizza was born as a poor man’s meal until the 19th century and that means that we have few written records of it. With the event or legend of Queen Margherita and the pizza later baptised ‘Margherita’ changed everything. With a pizza carrying the colours of the Italian flag.
There is a typical and official Neapolitan pizza. This recipe with the ingredients from Naples can be baked and obtain a pizza like the one we would find in the streets of Naples.
Pizza is and will remain an everyday meal, a meal that unites and adapts to all tastes and cultures.
The fifth most internationally known Italian word, and the first that refers to desserts, don’t you believe it? The Accademia Italiana della Crusca eliminates all doubt: the word tiramisù is listed as “gastronomic Italianism” in 23 languages. All the dictionaries mention it, mentioning the main ingredients.
The etymology of the word Tiramisu means “raise me up, strengthen my body”. It derives from the Treviso dialect “Tireme su”, Italianised into tiramisu in the last decades of the twentieth century.
Tiramisù is the king of Italian desserts. Known all over the world, it is attributed with aphrodisiac, intoxicating and historical properties. Rejected only by those who do not drink alcohol. It is the perfect mix between sweet, bitter, smooth texture on the palate and the final taste of chocolate…
Available in all the world’s cuisine restaurants, which is great because you can try it in any capital of the world. But is it well-made? Is tiramisu really ‘how it should be’? The original recipe has alcohol in it? Read on.
Origins of the recipe
The recipe would be derived from “sbatudin” a mixture of beaten egg yolk with sugar, commonly used by peasant families as a restorative or for newlyweds. To this was then added the mascarpone, coffee and cocoa that all our families remember having tasted since childhood before its prohibition during the last world war.
Between legend and reality
Tiramisù is a cultural product, the result of a mixture of simple ingredients from different places. It is the great-grandson of a Romagnolo dessert, it uses Piedmontese Ladyfingers, Brazilian cocoa, Lombard mascarpone.
It is to be expected, then, that many regions dispute their place of birth.
Origin in Treviso, Veneto region, Italy
Tiramisù Academy claims to have all the evidence to say that the tiramisu was created in Treviso, Veneto region, Italy, towards the end of the 1700s and beginning of the 1800s.
The brothels of Veneto
One of the legends about the origin of tiramisu says that the dessert was created by a courtesan from a brothel in the historic centre of Treviso, Italy. The dessert was offered to customers at the end of the evening. When giving it to them, a courtesan holding the cake warned them in this way: “desso ve tiro su mi”, which means ‘now I lift you’ / ‘now I throw you on me’, hence the origin of the name.
The ingredients of ‘tiramisu’ support the theory
All of them are nutritious and caloric: eggs, sugar, Lady Fingers, mascarpone cheese, coffee and cocoa (a portion of tiramisu can reach 500 calories!). Even the simple preparation of the recipe, anyone can do it without special tools.
This is how the ”Tiremesù” was born, a natural viagra from the 1800s
Over the centuries, a veil of popular shame and embarrassment has concealed the true origin of Tiramisú. In fact, it is not mentioned in books until the second half of the 20th century, with the sexual liberation.
Other places that dispute the authorship of tiramisu
The ‘Zuppa del Duca’ the name of the Tramisù in Siena, Italy
The rivalry between the two most important cities in the Tuscany region of Italy, Siena and Florence, is well known.
Legend has it that in the 17th century the inhabitants of Siena were once expecting a visit from the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo III de Medici. And after deliberating whether to put a snake in his bunk or give him poisoned wine to drink, the Sienese decided to open their doors without warlike purposes and be hospitable.
But how do you honor a Grand Duke?
It was known that the Duke had just married a certain Marguerite Louise d’Orléans, a cousin of King Louis XIV, known for her airs and graces.
So to ‘cheer up’ the new couple, a pastry chef devised a cake with energetic ingredients to warm up even the coldest nights.
So they served the Grand Duke mascarpone, ladyfingers, coffee and chocolate.
Duke Cosimo III de Medici was fascinated.
The Duke’s Soup or ‘Zuppa del Duca’ conquered the palate and heart of the Grand Duke and the beautiful Margherita, who decided to take the recipe with them so that they would never run out.
‘’Más que bueno’’ (Spainsh for ‘more than good’)
An important ingredient of Tiramisù is mascarpone or mascherpone. It is probably derived from the Lombard “mascherpa” which means ricotta cheese, though it is not ricotta cheese. Mascarpone is an acidified milk cream.
Some historians say that the origin of this cheese goes back to medieval times and the name derives from an expression used by a Spanish nobleman in 1200 who called it “Mas che bueno”.
A must for tiramisu lovers
In Piazzetta Ancilotto, in the centre of Treviso, an old inn of the time, the current restaurant Le Beccherie, was the first to include Tiramisù on its menu. And it is the restaurant that claims to have invented it, saying that the dessert made the opposite journey to its origins: from houses to inns, restaurants and bakeries.
First tiramisu recipe
The first written recipe on record is that of the restaurant Le Beccherie in Treviso. In 1983, in his book “La cucina trevigiana”, the oenogastronome Giuseppe Maffioli describes the recipe for the legitimate ‘Tiramisu delle Beccherie’.
It was in that year that the dessert was first served. It was prepared by the confectioner Roberto ”Loli” Linguanotto and he called it “zuppa inglese al caffè”. Linguanotto’s work was influenced in many ways during his years in Germany. Linguanotto added the Lady Fingers, biscuits born in the Savoy of the late Middle Ages, which also appear in the French Charlotte.
The first written recipe for tiramisu
Snow-mount 12 egg yolks with half a kilo of sugar and then add 1 kg of mascarpone, obtaining a smooth cream. Wet 30 Ladyfingers with sugared coffee. Spread half of the cream on the Ladyfingers, then place another 30 Ladyfingers and dip them in more coffee, smearing with the remaining mascarpone. Sprinkle the mascarpone with bitter cocoa, and place in the fridge until serving.
Another traditional recipe from Treviso
This recipe, as I said before, does not include Marsala wine. This was added later.
It is almost the same as the first recipe mentioned in this article, only the proportions are slightly different, and the quantities lower.
To prepare it according to the original recipe, the following ingredients are needed Lady Fingers, egg yolks, sugar, coffee, mascarpone and cocoa powder.
The original recipe does not include egg whites and liquor (however, if you want to add some, the most suitable is the Marsala).
The original shape of the cake is round, although the shape of the Lady Fingers favours the use of a rectangular or square baking dish, spreading the classic “brick” image. However, it is often also assembled inside round glass cups, showing the various layers, or in the form of a pyramid.
Ingredients for 6-8 people
300g of mascarpone
3 egg yolks
sugar (1 and a half spoons per yolk)
coffee (slightly sweetened)
bitter cocoa powder
Beat the egg yolks with sugar
Combine the mascarpone to obtain a soft cream
Soak the ladyfingers in coffee and put them in a layer
Cover the cake layer with the cream and repeat the operation, ending with a layer of cream.
Place in the fridge for a few hours
Finally sprinkle with bitter cocoa and serve cold.
Tiramisù, classic Italian recipe
A final version of the tiramisu, which includes the addition of liquor, preferably Marsala wine, although the recipe leaves it optional.
The classic recipe of the Italian dessert, made with simplicity and tradition. With Marsala wine.
500 g mascarpone
300 g lady fingers
250 g of coffee (mocha or espresso)
200 g of sugar
80 g Marsala (Optional)
Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks in two different bowls. Add the sugar and a pinch of salt to the yolks.
Keep the egg whites aside and beat the yolks with a whisk until they are frothy and clear.
Add the mascarpone cheese to the beaten egg yolks, stirring with a spoon.
Beat the egg whites with a hand or electric mixer: if you use the hand mixer, choose a large mixer to add more air. Add the beaten egg whites to the yolk and mascarpone mixture, stirring the cream from bottom to top.
Pour the coffee at room temperature into a low, wide dish, mix a spoonful of sugar and the Marsala (soak).
Soak 2 Ladyfingers at a time in the dish, for 1 second on each side, then distribute them side by side, in a first layer, in an oven dish (30×30 cm), not leaving any empty spaces.
Cover the Ladyfingers with 1/3 of the cream and repeat the same operations to make two more equal layers.
Let the tiramisu cool in the fridge for a couple of hours covered with aluminium foil, then sprinkle with cocoa just before serving.
To celebrate the tiramisu day
The World Tiramisu Day is celebrated on 21 March. It is the first day of spring in Europe and the day that recharges you for the new season.
We do not really know how it originated. But tiramisu is certainly one of the best known Italian desserts in world gastronomy, because of its ingredients of varied origins and the ease of preparation. And I hope it will remain like that for a long time to come.
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”Written like this? Not ‘vitel tonné‘? Italian? It sounds French…”
This may come to mind when you see this title. Do you want to know why we call it vitel tonné? Here I explain it to you.
In some countries like Argentina and Italy this recipe is reserved only for the holidays, Christmas or New Year. In others, like the country of origin, it is an interesting and tasty entry.
I say this because, being Argentine, the taste and aroma of vitel tonné reminds me of Christmas, and it is rare for me to eat it on an occasion other than the holidays in December. When I first saw vitello tonnato on an Italian menu I thought it was a reversion of a French recipe. Later I would understand that I was wrong, that vitello tonnato is as Italian as pizza or panettone.
Tonno means tuna in Italian, so it is sometimes believed that the name of the recipe comes from the fact that it contains tuna as if the literal meaning was: rump steak with tuna.
However, in the 18th century recipe books we find the first testimonies of “vitello tonè” (or tonné), in which the tuna is often missing.
At that time, French and Italian were the official languages of the Duchy of Savoy and the two languages were often mixed, a dialect of French rich in Italianisms being spoken. The term “tonné” was probably understood in the sense of the French “tanné“, that is, tanned or tangled.
We owe the arrival of the tuna to the smugglers
Salt was a precious and expensive commodity at the time, even more expensive than fish. At that time the Piedmontese went to the sea in Liguria to buy sardines and tuna. However, these clever people used to hide the salt underneath the fish to trick the French and Italian customs officers into selling the salt in Piedmont.
First the tonnato, then the tuna
According to culinary academics: “one might think that tonnato initially meant that the veal was tanned (tané) and that the tuna was added later, probably attracted by the name of the dish”.
A poor people’s recipe with a rich reputation
Unlike the contemporary recipe, in 1700 this was a poor and popular dish, cooked with the remains of meat boiled for a long time to obtain softness and to try to disinfect the raw material from the many contaminations at that time.
Between ancient and modern, the difference is in the mayonnaise
Mayonnaise was introduced in the 20th century. The success of the dish on a national and international scale, took place from the 1960s onwards by, among others, Guido and Lidia Alciati from the Da Guido restaurant in Costigliole d’Asti.
In the 1980s, it was at the top of the Italian gastronomic scene, a time of modernity and ‘culinary hedonism’, where the traditional was left aside in search of the more modern and industrial.
So between an older, local Piedmontese recipe and today’s classic recipe, the difference is in the mayonnaise, and something else. Let’s go to the recipes.
The old recipe is that of Artusi
The first recipe written for vitel tonné dates back to the 19th century, when Pellegrino Artusi formalised the recipe in his book ‘Scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene’.
The great gourmet of Romagna used to prescribe veal in milk, seasoned with anchovies and then boiled “with two cloves, a bay leaf, celery, carrot and parsley”. The meat was cut into thin slices and kept “in an infusion for a day or two” in a sauce made with anchovies, tuna in oil, lemon, oil and capers. Nothing was thrown away, of course: “Strain the broth and use it for a risotto”.
Some people do not know that vitello tonnato, or vitel tonné, is a pride of Piedmontese cuisine to the extent that it has two different versions: the old one and the one we all know.
This first recipe is exactly what is made in the city of Turin: the vitello tonnato alla maniera antica, called so because one does not throw away anything that is used for cooking.
Unlike the more classic version of the vitel tonné, here the meat is not boiled but browned first on the flame and then baked.
And instead of the classic vegetables such as carrots and onions, tuna, anchovies and capers are used, which together with the boiled eggs, will form a creamy tuna sauce without the addition of mayonnaise!
Rump steak 500 g
Garlic 1 clove
Salt up to 5 g
Black pepper q.b.
White wine 80 g
Whole milk 150 g
Tuna fish in oil 125 g
Anchovies in oil 20 g
Capers 20 g
Boiled eggs 4
Marsala 15 g
Vegetable broth 40 g
Extra virgin olive oil 40 g
How to prepare ‘vitel tonné’ or vitello tonnato in the old fashioned way
Season the meat with salt and pepper by spreading the salt on a cutting board and roll the meat like a roll for uniform seasoning.
Pour 20 g of oil into an ovenproof casserole dish.
Place a clove of garlic in the pan and then add the meat. Brown the meat over a medium-high heat on all sides for 2-3 minutes.
Important: This recipe is Italian, a place where the meat is eaten slightly pink. If the meat is eaten well cooked in your country, do not hesitate to double the cooking times.
At this point you add the shredded rump steak or loins, anchovies and capers.
Slightly break the tuna and when it is toasted and golden, add the white wine.
Once the white wine has been slightly reduced, add the milk over the mixture and not over the meat.
As it is, transfer to a preheated oven at 180° and cook it for 7-8 minutes, then turn the rump steak and continue cooking for another 7-8 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the hard-boiled eggs, placing the eggs in boiling water for 9 minutes.
Take it out of the oven, cover it with aluminium foil and let it cool down completely at room temperature.
As soon as the meat has cooled down, transfer it to a cutting board and remove the garlic clove from the cooking liquid;
Then pour the mixture into a mixing bowl and add the sliced boiled eggs.
Process with a mixer or in a blender and add 20 g of oil, vegetable broth and Marsala.
Mix until a smooth cream is obtained, adding more broth if it is too thick. Put it in the fridge to cool down a bit.
Remove the string from the meat and cut it into thin slices with a very sharp knife.
Preparation of the dish:
Option 1: Place all the slices of meat together on a plate and add the sauce on top.
Option 2: Place the slices of meat on a cutting board and fill every piece of meat with a teaspoon of cream, placing it in the middle of the slice. Close each slice in the shape of a half-moon and place on a serving plate.
Some lettuce leaves can be added and seasoned with salt, oil and balsamic vinegar.
The vitello tonnato alla maniera antica is ready, you just have to try it!
This is a recipe that in the 80’s was popular on all party tables, big occasions, the first chic homemade snacks and even on cruise ships!
What makes this recipe really special is the tenderness of the meat. Ladies and gentlemen, make sure you have everything you need, today we are preparing the eternal recipe for veal with tuna sauce!
Preparation: 40 min.
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Dosage for: 4 persons
Rump steak 800 g
Golden onions 1
Garlic 1 clove
White wine 250 g
Water 1.5 l
Laurel 1 leaf
Extra virgin olive oil 3 tablespoons
Black peppercorns ½ teaspoon
For the sauce
Tuna fish drained in oil 100 g
Anchovies in oil 3 fillets
Capers in salt 5 g
Fruit of capers to decorate q.b.
To prepare the modern vitello tonnato, you start by cleaning the vegetables that will be used to cook the meat. Wash them, then peel the carrot and cut it into pieces. Then remove the tips of the celery and also cut it into pieces. Peel the onion and divide it into 2 parts. As you do this, collect the ingredients in a bowl and add the peeled garlic.
Clean the meat by removing cartilage and fat filaments. In a large pan put the meat, the cut vegetables, bay leaves, 2-3 cloves and black peppercorns.
Pour the white wine and then the water to cover everything. Add two pinches of salt and then the oil.
Turn on the grill and wait for it to boil, then gradually remove the foam that will rise to the surface.
Then close the lid and lower the heat slightly, leaving it to cook for about 40-45 minutes: remember that for every 500g of meat it takes about 30 minutes to cook. The important thing is that the heart of the meat does not exceed 65°, which can be measured with a kitchen thermometer.
Once the piece of meat is cooked, drain it and let it cool down completely. Then remove the bay leaves, pepper and cloves.
Recover 1/3 of the broth obtained and reduce it to a high heat for about ten minutes (the remaining part of the meat broth is useful for other preparations, such as a risotto).
At the end of the cooking, drain the vegetables in a bowl.
Prepare the cooked eggs by placing them in a pan of water at room temperature, turn on the oven and count 9 minutes from the time the water comes to the boil. Then rinse them under cold water. Once they are cold, open them, cut them into 4 parts and add them to the bowl with the vegetables.
Add to the bowl the drained tuna, the anchovies in oil and the capers (remove the salt under running water) and a little broth.
Use a blender or mixer to process everything into a cream. Add more broth if necessary.
Mix until you get a smooth cream with the consistency you prefer.
At this point, the meat should be completely cold. Cut it into thin slices with a sharp knife. Place the slices and pour the cream in the middle.
Finally, garnish with caper fruits, some whole and others cut in half.
Vitello tonnato ready!
It is recommended to consume the vitello tonnato within 1 to 2 days, keeping it in a hermetically sealed container. It is preferable to keep the cream separate.
Freeze it if it is not consumed at the moment.
Use a slicer to make thin slices.
If you prefer a more cooked meat, slightly extend the cooking time in the oven.
Add or replace vegetables and spices with those you prefer, preferably in season. If you don’t like anchovies and/or capers, remove them.
Some versions use mayonnaise instead of boiled eggs, you can try adding as much as you like!
Probably the most famous of all cheeses and an emblem of world cuisine. In Italy, they call it The King of Cheeses. But, like for every famous product, it has copycats, which in this case, we know as Parmesan.
Parmigiano Reggiano has been produced for nine centuries in the Italian provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Piacenza and parts of Modena and Bologna. It is a very old cheese and its production remained almost unchanged from the beginning.
However, since ancient times that fame has brought producers of Parmigiano Reggiano PDO more than one headache.
Parmigiano Reggiano is the most imitated cheese in the world.
Today it is said that the production of imitation cheese has already surpassed that of the original PDO cheese. This means the equivalent of about 200 million tons per year in the world.
Coldiretti, an organization that defends the interests of agriculture in Italy, denounces that the market of false Italian cheeses is stealing market space from ‘Made in Italy’ products.
For instance, in the cheese market of allegedly ‘Italian brands’ in the United States, only one per cent actually comes from Italy. This market is constantly expanding: in the last decade, it has grown by about 70 per cent.
In recent years, the phenomenon of imitating Parmigiano Reggiano PDO has also taken hold on the Internet. To give an example, on the online sales platform Alibaba, a 5 thousand ton of imitation Parmigiano Reggiano was stopped in 2017. This amount is equal to half of the monthly production of the authentic product.
What is the difference between Italian Parmigiano Reggiano PDO and Parmesan?
Parmesan, Parmesano, Reggianito and Parmesão are generic names, not protected by intellectual property law with a Protected Designation of Origin. So they do not have a regulation or a specific production region like Parmigiano Reggiano PDO.
Parmigiano Reggiano PDO can only be produced in the defined production region, following strict production regulations. These regulations determine the ingredients, do not allow the addition of additives or preservatives, describe the tools to be used in the process, and define the maturation times. This is done to obtain a cheese that is the same as it was nine centuries ago.
Parmesan, Reggianito and Parmesano don’t have a production standard
In the case of the generic name ‘Parmesan’, ‘Reggianito’ or ‘Parmesan’, as there are no standards of production, it is all up to the producer. So, a Parmesan producer in the United States can choose whether to add additives or preservatives to their cheese, how long it will age and even the type of milk they will use.
It is not that an ordinary producer cannot make cheese the way he likes, even in the same way as Parmigiano Reggiano PDO cheese is made. Hence, the problem lies in the use of the name Parmigiano Reggiano or any name that alludes to it or remembers it. Or even misleads the consumer into thinking that it is that product. In such cases, it is a usurpation of the name.
But before we can recognize the imitation Parmesan cheese, we must first know the original.
Therefore, if you want to know about the history and production of Parmigiano Reggiano PDO, read this article.
And if you want to know more about what it is and the different types of Parmigiano, read this article.
How to recognize a Parmigiano Reggiano PDO?
It’s very easy.
We know that it is forbidden to sell the wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano PDO cheese, therefore the original cheese is sold in pieces generally heat-sealed. This plastic must have logos printed on its surface. Look for the logos of the Denomination of Origin and of the Consorzio di Tutela, if it is original it must have them.
On an organoleptic level, it is more difficult to recognize Parmigiano Reggiano PDO. Also, depending on the maturation of the cheese, the flavours and aromas change a lot. However, it is possible to try to recognize the characteristic straw yellow colour and the calcium crystals when cutting the cheese. This could be done by a cheese taster or sensory analyst specialized in cheese.
If we are an average consumer it is better to look for the logos.
And if the logos are not there, be suspicious that it is probably not an original Parmigiano Reggiano PDO.
Why is it important to consume the original product?
Parmigiano Reggiano has a unique taste, like milk, nuts, grass from the Padana plain, and a history that few traditional products can demonstrate. By consuming a product with a Protected Designation of Origin, we help producers to continue producing with that age-old excellence and we ensure the product’s permanence for future generations.
Also, we help combat the market of imitation cheeses, which take advantage of the fame of Parmigiano Reggiano DOP to promote their cheeses.
How was imitation Parmigiano Reggiano born?
The imitation was born almost at the same time as the product.
When someone succeeds, what happens around them?
People want to copy the success formula and the imitation begins. That happened with our cheese when it started to become famous in Europe in the 15th century. Then the Duke of Parma passed a law saying that only cheese produced in his region could be called Parmesan.
At the European level, the law was respected. But the wars and famines in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries generated waves of migration to the so-called ‘new colonies’ of Europe in the world. Millions of immigrants from Europe and other continents came to these new colonies in search of a better life.
And as is to be expected in every new place, one tries to replicate the living conditions in his place of origin. Hence, when the Italians from the area of Parma, Bologna, Reggio Emilia and Modena arrived in American countries such as the United States, Brazil and Argentina, they began to produce cheese, like the one they knew how to make.
Why didn’t they call it Parmigiano Reggiano?
They didn’t call it Parmigiano because Italians used to call it the cheese Parmesan at that time. Until the 19th century in Italy Parmigiano Reggiano was known as Parmesan.
They were not going to imagine that by that simple name they were going to generate serious international problems between Europe and the United States in the next centuries.
It was not until 1938 that the Parma and Reggio Emilia regions came together to call it Parmigiano Reggiano.
Is Parmigiano Reggiano PDO better than Parmesan?
We don’t know, it is up to the consumer. One thing about Parmigiano Reggiano is that its production rules are much stricter than those of Parmesan, which has no specific standards.
In some cases, by following certain quality rules, a similar product could be obtained.
Tip: buy and try both. Both products can be bought online and even in several Italian or regular markets.
Does imitation Parmesan harm or benefit the Parmigiano Reggiano DOP market?
Parmesan in the United States, Australia, South Africa and Russia, Parmesan in Uruguay, Reggianito in Argentina, Parmesan in Brazil, all variations of the same name.
In fact, these countries could not use these names to designate their cheeses, since it leads the consumer to confusion as to whether or not it is the Italian product.
But by intellectual property law, the name Parmesan, Parmigiano or Reggiano is not protected, only that of the Parmigiano-Reggiano duo. Moreover, the use is deeply rooted in the culture, and for some small producers, this would be huge damage to the promotion of their products. This is why some exceptions are made.
Is it really a usurpation of the Italian market?
Or does this imitation product on the one hand damages and on the other hand serves as free advertising for the market of Parmigiano Reggiano DOP?
The numbers speak for themselves, and the fact is that the market for PDO Parmigiano Reggiano in the world does not stop growing.
Sales of PDO Parmigiano Reggiano are on the rise and it is a gourmet product with a higher margin.
In 2019, Italy accounted for just under 60% of total PDO Parmigiano Reggiano consumption, compared to an export share of 41%.
France is the main market (21% of total exports), followed by the United States (20.9%), Germany (17.8%), the United Kingdom (12.3%), and Canada (3.9%).
The reason for this phenomenon may be because today consumers want to know more about the products they consume and prefer more original and local products
The average consumer is more and more informed. Then it is expected that by knowing the history of real Parmigiano Reggiano, he or she will want to have a better culinary experience and will go for the original cheese.
Consumption habits are rooted in the culture
Parmigiano Reggiano arrived in America through migratory flows and that is also how the consumption habit was born in these countries. The immigrants probably produced a very handmade imitation and far from judging it, it can be considered the way of subsistence of the newcomers.
Therefore, at first, there would not be an implicit intention to imitate the product, but the consumption habits of the society that was accustomed to the Parmesan cheese possibly facilitated the entry of the product in the international market.
But there is also a malicious imitation
One cannot defend the real and conscious usurpation and use of the name when one is already aware of its value but also of the legal problems that the use of the name for advertising purposes can bring.
But on the other hand, Italy defends Parmigiano Reggiano PDO, even though it seems that imitations enhance its fame and indirectly increase its sales.
How fascinating is the world of the intellectual property of food!
This story teaches us that migratory currents generate changes in food, new consumption habits, products are born and thus world gastronomy is enriched.
Parmigiano Reggiano is an Italian cheese that is as well known as it is tasty.
You can eat it either whole or in small pieces. You can add it to pasta, to cooking mixtures, you can eat it with jams or fruits.
Parmigiano Reggiano is so versatile that you can find it in many Italian foods as well as international recipes.
In this article you will learn about:
What kind of cheese is Parmigiano Reggiano?
Qualities and differentiations of a Parmigiano Reggiano, what to look for when buying
Type of production
Parmigiano Reggiano tasting
Why is Parmigiano Reggiano so tasty?
What kind of cheese is Parmigiano Reggiano?
Parmigiano Reggiano PDO is a slow-maturation, semi-fatty, hard cheese produced all year round from raw and semi-skimmed cow’s milk.
It has a hard pale-golden rind and a straw-coloured interior with a rich, spicy taste. It takes at least one year to get real Parmigiano-Reggiano. Parmigiano Reggiano labelled as stravecchio is three years old, while stravecchiones are four or more years old.
Its complex taste and grainy texture are the results of long ageing. Parmigiano-Reggiano is the “King of Cheeses” and Italians do not put this label on any cheese. It has a very strict set of rules to follow. It is very nutritious and digestible because of its low lactose content.
The concentration of proteins, vitamins, calcium and mineral salts, make it a cheese suitable for all ages. And in any situation, a rich source of immediate energy.
The production area is the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia and Modena. Bologna to the left of the river Reno, in the region of Emilia-Romagna. And Mantua to the right of the river Po, in the region of Lombardy.
The characteristics of the soil in the defined geographical area and the historical importance of cheese in the local economy have resulted in the traditional art of cheese making.
Over nine centuries the cheese-making art passed on under local customs from the area. It is the best table cheese because of the richness and delicacy of its taste.
What to look for when buyingParmigiano Reggiano
Of course, each consumer has a taste. There are various types of differentiation, understanding this helps us to buy the Parmigiano Reggiano.
In my professional experience, I had the opportunity to visit many Parmigiano Reggiano establishments.
I always took the chance to ask the master cheesemakers which is, according to them, the best Parmigiano Reggiano.
My wonder was to know how to buy a good Parmigiano Reggiano DOP. I hope it can also help anyone who is reading this. And also to understand more about this cheese’s versatility in the kitchen and its uses.
Cheesemakers’ responses always vary between three factors:
cheese ripening time,
breed of cow and
There are also other distinctive qualities, such as organic production, or mountain production.
The ripening time is the most distinctive feature that the consumer notices. Aromas and texture change as it increases. There are three main types of ripening identified with three different labels:
Lobster Red Seal: Parmigiano Reggiano over 18 months old. It is possible to recognize the taste of the milk. Ideal for appetizers. Make yourself a favour, accompany this wonderful cheese with a dry white wine, such as a Malvasia dei Colli di Parma, and fresh fruit, such as green apples and pears.
Silver seal:Parmigiano Reggiano over 22 months old. It is the classic Parmigiano Reggiano. You can feel notes of melted butter and fresh fruit, with slight hints of citrus and dried fruit. It is crumbly, granulated and well-soluble, sweet and tasty. It is crumbly, granulated and well-soluble, sweet and tasty. You can use it to fill pasta like ravioli or grate it to give an extra flavour to any pasta or risotto dish. Also, on salads, with fresh fruit or vegetables, with a few drops of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. The right wine? Red, with medium structure.
Gold seal: Parmigiano Reggiano over 30 months old, also known as ‘stravecchio‘. The taste is strong and complex: on the palate, you can feel the spicy and fruity notes.
The breed of cow used for cheese production is also a distinctive feature. Currently, for the production of Parmigiano Reggiano, we use the Friesian breed. But, there are two breeds that represent a niche market. These breeds produce less, but they have particular characteristics:
Reggiana or ‘Vacca Rossa’ This breed was partially abandoned because of its lower yield. It produces cheese for long-aged cheeses lovers, as it maintains a sweet, delicate and persistent taste. And the organoleptic properties are different, characterized by a yellow straw colour, an elastic grain, and an intense but delicate aroma even after more than thirty months of maturation.
Bruna breed The high fat (about 4%) and protein content (3.5 – 3.8%) is the added value of the Bruna breed. A combination not found in other breeds and species raised in the world.
The value of Parmigiano Reggiano di Montagna PDO is the production territory. Preserving the more than 100 artisan cheese dairies located in mountainous areas. Sixty per cent of the dairy cows feed comes from the mountain areas. That gives the final product the intrinsic qualities of the territory.
By consuming Parmigiano Reggiano di Montagna PDO, we know we are preserving and enhancing a rustic and vulnerable territory.
Type of production
The production of Parmigiano Reggiano Biologico PDO is carried out according to the principles of organic agriculture. This means that the food comes from organic agriculture, animal welfare is respected, and the rennet used is free of preservatives. Also, the production is carried out in separate boilers from other production processes especially for the production of Parmigiano Reggiano Biologico DOP.
Parmigiano Reggiano tasting
You can eat Parmigiano-Reggiano on its own, grated or in flakes. On top of pasta or risotto, as an appetizer, or at the end of the meal, accompanied by honey, fruit or vegetable compote. With aperitifs and cocktails, it enhances the flavour of dry liqueurs and moderates the effects of alcohol.
If consumed as is, you can combine it with:
White wines: Quite structured, smooth, quite warm, quite aromatic, persistent, even sparkling or foamy;
Red wines: Harmonious, not too ripe, full-bodied, with very balanced tannins and long aromatic persistence.
Why is Parmigiano Reggiano so tasty?
Parmigiano Reggiano has a special taste that is even associated with the ‘fifth taste’. The umami taste is a Japanese word that means something rich and tasty. Umami is due to a substance which occurs naturally in Parmigiano Reggiano as well as in other foods, such as meat and broths.
The umami itself has no taste at all, but it has the ability to enhance any flavour it is mixed with. In the food industry, it is known as a flavour enhancer. How does a food enhancer work? When you feel that a portion of pasta is a bit bland, if you add cheese or meat it suddenly seems very tasty. That’s the umami taste.
In some imitation cheeses where you don’t get the distinctive taste, some producers add the chemical substance responsible for the umami taste which is monosodium glutamate. This is added to recreate the same conditions that occur naturally in Parmigiano Reggiano.
The king of cheeses
Parmigiano Reggiano is indisputably the king of cheeses because of its taste, versatility, variety, history, and indisputable relationship with Italy. For this reason, it is a Denomination of Origin and thus its production is controlled and delimited.
Thanks to the Consorzio di Tutela, the recipe and the way of production remain intact, as they did 900 years ago and we hope another thousand years more.
Oh Italy, the city of history, love and of course… Italian Food!
I had the chance to live in Italy since 2013 and to be honest. I must say that food-related matters occupy 90 per cent of the days in the Italian’s life.
When Italians are not eating they are talking… About food, and when they eat they talk about the food they ate yesterday and the new dish they discovered the other day or the excellent lasagna their grandmother used to cook to them when they were little.
Italians are the food, the food for them means warm, care, mother, la Bella vita and il dolce far niente. So food for Italians is friends gatherings and family time. Insomma: Tutto (In short: Everything).
Italians are also very proud of their gastronomic culture. They don-t like copycats and most of all they hate the Itali
In the 19th century, there was a great migration of Italians to many parts of the world: especially the United States, Australia, Argentina and Brazil. These migratory flows helped to forge the identity of these countries, and although today these countries do not speak Italian, the love for Italy as a certain homeland is present. That maybe is why in several countries we find dishes that we can consider ‘Italianized’. There are two cases, in particular, two recipes that the Italians themselves are averse to because they are a bad interpretation of Italian gastronomy. These are Alfredo Sauce and Hawaiian Pizza.
The original Alfredo sauce has nothing to do with the one we see today, it consisted only of butter and parmesan cheese. Today it can be made with cream, onion, oregano and parsley and the first recipe is known in Italy as ‘fettuccini alla Romana’.
Hawaiian pizza is a variant of pizza usually prepared with a cheese and tomato base and topped with pieces of ham and pineapple in syrup. Other versions may also include mixed peppers, mushrooms, bacon and other ingredients.
So the use of pineapple as a pizza filling generates conflicting opinions. On the one hand, it is despised and judged as a real insult to the Italian culinary tradition. On the other hand, it appears to be highly appreciated in various countries around the world. For example, in England, it leads the way in sales of delivery pizza and in Australia it is the favourite topping.
In 2017, Iceland’s president, Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson, joked that the filling of pizza with pineapple should be banned by law. The goliardic joke generated a real international media controversy that impacted on social networks with the viral hashtag #pineappleonpizza.
A one-day real Italian traditional food diet
Today I would like to talk about the daily Italian food diet. Have you ever wondered how a real Italian Family breakfast is?
Well, there is where we start.
Italian breakfast means coffee and pastries
What if we take a coffee? Italians love coffee and you may have heard that they have the best coffee in the world. With centuries of coffee consumption, it has become part of their culture.
Coffee does not grow in Italy but Italians have developed the best machines to do the ‘torrefaction’ (toasting) of the coffee.
But when we are outside of Italy and take a cappuccino or an espresso, is it really an Italian coffee? Well, probably not.
For an Italian espresso, we need 5 to 7 grams of coffee per 30 ml of water. If we add milk foam it is called caffè macchiato, which literally means stained coffee. It is a small drink, very concentrated, it can be heavy on the stomach if you are not used to it.
Italian coffee for espresso and for Moka is not the same, the size of the coffee granulate for the espresso machine is smaller. If you want to know more about Italian coffee here is my article Italian coffee, the ultimate guide.
What do the Italians eat for breakfast?
If you go to a bar and take an espresso, probably you will accompany it with a brioche in Milan and a cornetto in Rome. Cornetto is not the same as the french brioche or a croissant, it is similar to a croissant but a different recipe. If you want to learn how to bake brioche here is a recipe I recommend to you.
The cornetto or brioche can be filled or ‘vuoto’ (empty). The filling can be made of pastry cream, Nutella, or different jams.
Italian breakfast menu
Cappuccino: It consists of espresso with milk and milk foam in equal parts, sprinkled with cocoa or cinnamon.
Cosa vuole per primo? E secondo? (‘What do you want as a first dish? And second?’) A typical question a waiter will pose to you if you’re in an Italian restaurant. In Italy, there are four parts in every meal: antipasto, primo, secondo and dolce with coffee.
You might be thinking, how am I gonna finish four dishes?
But usually, the portions are small, so it’s no problem
Il primo or the first dish
It is usually pasta (gnocchi, spaghetti, lasagna), rice (risotto), minestra (soup) or a polenta.
It has no meat or if it does, the portions are not large. Usually served on a deep plate, the portion is quite small. This is done to make room for what is coming: ‘il secondo’ and not end up vomiting as in Roman times.
Il secondo is the main dish
It is usually composed of meat or fish.
Meat dishes: Ossobuco, Steak alla Fiorentina or Vitello tonnato
Mushroom dishes: Boletus edulis
Fish dishes: Gilthead bream, prawns, swordfish
Il Contorno is a side dish that can be either salad or vegetables. In a typical menu, the salad comes after the main course.
Il dolce, the desserts
The most typical are tiramisu, gelato, pudding, zabaione, macedonia.
Let’s go to the menu for our Italian lunch
Vitello tonnato. The vitello tonnato (or vitel’ tonné) is a typical Piedmontese dish, served chilled, prepared from slices of veal, covered with a sauce based on tuna, egg yolks, anchovies, capers, olive oil, mixed with lemon juice. It is often eaten in summer, on the terrace.
Primo Risotto allo zaferano. This first course best enhances the aromatic qualities of saffron with a pleasant and captivating golden colour that makes this dish so special. A little magic that combined with the creamy touch of the mantecatura, inevitable in the preparation of risottos, will give you a risotto with a unique and unmistakable taste.
Secondo Cotoletta alla Milanese. A tender beef steak, covered with breadcrumbs, fried in butter, Cotoletta alla milanese is one of the iconic dishes of Milan, the capital of Italian style and design.
Dolce Tiramisù. It is a dessert made with ladyfingers soaked in coffee and stuffed with a cream of mascarpone egg and sugar, covered with a layer of cocoa. The Etymology of the word Tiramisu is simple and intuitive: TIRA-MI-SU’ which means it lifts, strengthens my body. The original name of this delicious dessert comes from the Venetian dialect Tiremesù, then Italianized in Tiramisù.
Taking a snack and a coffee in a corner bar
If some hours after lunch you feel like a coffee. Let’s go to a corner bar.
In Italy, it is very typical to see very small bars with no chairs at all. People are used to taking the coffee so quickly that they don’t even sit down, it’s just a sip.
But on our Italian day, we are going to sit down and take a caffè macchiato!
This is a coffee with a bit of milk foam on top. So delicious that you will say Buonissimo and you will feel more Italian than ever.
And to accomany our coffee, what about a Cannoli?
We will drink our coffee with a typical pastry from Sicily, called cannoli. These sweets were among the favourites of the legendary Inspector Montalbano.
Cannolo is a typical sweet from the Italian region of Sicily, where it originated. It consists of a dough rolled up into a tube with ingredients mixed with ricotta cheese inside. It is so popular in Sicily that it is very rare to find a pastry shop where a tray of cannoli is not displayed.
Aperitivo? Martini anyone?
Milan, the most international city in Italy has an amazing ritual called aperitivo. Since ancient times, many people used to precede their dinner with an aromatic drink, more or less alcoholic. ‘Aperitif’, which derives from the Latin ‘aperire’: to open, to begin.
In Milan and its surroundings, young people flock to fashionable bars and outdoor squares to sip alcoholic cocktails, often accompanied by appetizers. There are buffets of pizzas, focaccia, fried vegetables, salads, but also cold and hot pasta.
Our Italian cocktail choice is going to be a Negroni
Before taking the first sip, it is necessary to raise the glass to the sun, so that its rays burn this liquid pomegranate that moves among the ice.
A red sea of icebergs and music by Nino Rota. 1/3 of Bombay Sapphire, 1/3 of bitter Campari and 1/3 of Martini Rosso.
In a medium-sized glass of Old Fashioned with ice, well mixed and an orange peel or in a cocktail glass cooled in a mixing glass adding a red cherry.
And to eat Pizza Margherita!
No introduction needed. Italian pizza is one of the most famous dishes in the world and with the hamburger the most widespread. Although it has been proven that the modern classic pizza (mozzarella and tomato) existed at least since the 1830s, an undocumented traditional story places the date in June 1889 when, to honour the Queen of Italy Margherita of Savoy, the chef Raffaele Esposito of Brandi Pizzeria created the Margherita pizza, whose seasonings (tomato, mozzarella and basil) represented the colours of the Italian flag.
Our Italian day is coming to an end, but before this, we are going to try some novel but traditional dishes.
Our Italian dinner menu
Antipasto Tagliere. The tagliere is an entry that, as you can see in the photo, consists of cuts of different Italian cured meats and cheeses. It is a good opportunity to try traditional specialities such as prosciutto di parma, copa piacentina, bresaola or culatello, and cheeses such as gorgonzola, robiola, talegio or parmigiano reggiano.
Primo Spaghetti al pesto. Pesto is a typical Ligurian condiment or sauce. Its main ingredient is Genoese basil. In addition to basil, pine nuts and garlic are ground, all seasoned with parmesan and/or sheep’s cheese, and olive oil.
Secondo Lasagne alla Bolognese. This is a typical second course of the Italian cuisine, especially the Bologna region. It is lasagna with two sauces: a meat sauce (the ragù) and a white sauce.
Dolce Zabaione, also called zabaglione, is a basic pastry preparation based on eggs, sugar and an alcoholic beverage, which can be a wine (typically, Marsala) or a liqueur.
Limoncello is the very popular liqueur made with the peel of citrus fruits from Campania, traditionally prepared with lemons typical of the Amalfi Coast.
Today we had a blast of Italian food, do you feel like more?
All the ‘primo’ and ‘secondo’ on each menu can be replaced with different specialities to explore other regions of Italy.
This article is the result of many years in the world of gastronomy, observing the behaviour of many people who call themselves ‘foodies’. But they do not really correspond to the definition of the foodie, as we will see later. I would like to define a new type of foodie: the traditional foodie. Whos interest radicate on traditional food, history of gastronomy and the local and seasonal food consumption.
The definition of ‘foodie’ is controversial. This urban tribe of Instagrammers posting everything edible with the only condition of being visually acceptable.
Yet, there are many foodies that do not identify with urban tribe.
First and foremost, let’s take a look at the definition of ‘foodie’
The term foodie was introduced in 1984 by Paul Levy, Anna Barr and Mat Sloan in their book “The Official Foodie Handbook” from 1984.
foodie noun a person who loves food and is very interested in different types of food. Similar words epicure, epicurean, gastronome, gourmet
During the 80s and 90s, the foodie movement led to:
the appearance of food networks
specialised food tv shows took place
a renaissance of cookbooks and specialist magazines
augmentation of foodie blogs
the regulation of geographical indications and designations of origin for the protection of agricultural products and foodstuffs
The key motivation for the birth of foodies as a small tribe was to escape the proliferation of prefabricated food chains in the globalized culture from developed countries. But on the other hand, the chefs began to be seen as divas, belittling the lifelong cooks, sometimes more experienced.
The profile of a foodie corresponds to young people between 30 and 40 years of age, from the middle and upper-middle classes. For them, eating is more than just nourishment.
They do not usually have professional ties to the world of cooking or drinking. Their interest lies in what’s new. They know the latest restaurant, where the best wine tastings take place, where you can find the best French bread or the perfect cocktails.
The term foodie has always sounded very snob to me.
Yet, when I was studying for my master’s degree in food identity, I and my colleagues liked to call ourselves ‘foodies’.
We loved everything about traditional food: stories, territories or terroirs, food culture and intellectual property.
We were foodies of traditional food.
So I allowed myself to invent my own definition of a traditional foodie.
Definition of a ‘traditional foodie’
A traditional foodie is a person who loves traditional food in all its forms. It is someone who’s behind not the new trends on food but the old traditions of every gastronomic culture.
The Traditional Foodie
Let me describe other characteristics of a traditional foodie.
A traditional foodie is curious about the other cultures
You can learn a lot from the gastronomic traditions of a country. So every time you meet someone, ask them what is the typical food of their country.
This answer can be surprising. Sometimes we think we know the answer to this question in some cases and we don’t.
For example, if you ask about traditional food to a Japanese person, he will surely not tell you about sushi. Sushi is not Japanese, it was created in the third century in the Mekong River in the region where today are the countries of Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.
A traditional foodie asks a local
When he or she travels, a traditional foodie does not search for food blogs or guides to find the best restaurant, he asks the locals! The locals are a great asset on a trip, they can help us find an address, but they can also tell us a good place to eat. We can ask them where to eat but also what to eat. But pay attention, not everybody knows what is traditional. Many people don’t understand that what is normal for them can be a novelty for others. Do not ask a local if he can advise you where and what to eat. He will probably send you to the most expensive and not necessarily good restaurant.
Ask a local (if he or she is nice), what is the traditional food from the city, or what their grandmothers used to cook to them when they were little. That is how you will find out about very good, local and traditional food from a place.
When you know what local food to try, you can go online and check where to eat it, or you can ask again a local.
A traditional foodie doesn’t care about aesthetics
A traditional foodie does not judge things for their envelope.
Do you have a story about the time you finished in the ugliest of the restaurants, and eating the best meal in your life? That’s what I am talking about.
I have a foodie friend that when are looking for a place to eat he says ‘look through the windows if the tablecloths of the restaurant are ugly, it means the food will be good’.
Traditional restaurants rarely change the interior decor, they are busy cooking good food. So don’t be afraid to jump in.
Los restaurantes locales antiguos suelen tener mucha experiencia, aman lo que hacen. Tuvieron buenos y malos momentos. Siguieron cocinando no sólo por su economía sino también por sus clientes históricos, que seguirán yendo pase lo que pase.
También la comida tradicional puede no ser la más bonita, pero el sabor y la historia que contiene supera cualquier tostada con aguacate y queso crema.
Si eres un turista, probablemente serás el único no local en el restaurante, y tendrás una verdadera experiencia gastronómica tradicional.
A traditional foodie knows that food is the way to overcome socially awkward situations
A traditional foodie always knows what to talk about in situations involving food. And this is, of course, food.
Food is the most practical way to say to someone that you love him or making someone feel comfortable. A food story is something that people always love to hear. Tell someone a story and you will give him a gift. Tell someone a story about food and you will give him love.
Food stories are always a great way to break the ice in any situation involving food. Whether it’s work, family, date.
So knowing a story or two about food can often improve a situation of social discomfort. And it’s much better than telling a joke.
Nowadays we don’t know who might get offended.
A traditional foodie eats seasonal veggies
A traditional foodie knows that to maintain tradition we must take care of the environment.
And he knows that we can’t eat the same fruits and vegetables all year round. Nature is wise and at every time of the year, it provides us with the fruits and vegetables we need to be healthy. For example, vitamin C prevents colds, so it is not a coincidence that oranges grow more in winter. And watermelons which grow during summer have a lot of water to help hydrate in that period.
Eating fruits and vegetables produced out of season (oranges in summer or zucchini in winter) increases the carbon and water footprint. This is because these fruits and vegetables come from greenhouses where more resources are spent. Or they are imported from other countries where they are in season.
A traditional foodie eats local
A traditional foodie does not eat avocado if it is not in Mexico or in a producing region.
One way to respect the tradition of a society is not to forget it. Consuming local food means promoting what we have nearby and helping primary producers.
Cooking local recipes and promoting them means that traditions are maintained and valued.
It increases the love for the place where you live and the sense of belonging.
One takes over the local natural resources and turns them into a local and traditional recipe for giving love to others. And so the history of a place continues to be written, generation to generation.
What are you waiting for to become a traditional foodie?
A traditional foodie loves the timelessness of food, its soul.
He doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone so he doesn’t care about fashions and trends. He loves to know what he eats and tries to share it with others.
A traditional foodie loves the world through food.
Geographical indications guarantee the origin of a food product. When we go to the supermarket we focus on the products with this logo because we know it is unique. In wine history, we can find many keys on the firsts steps to the development of GIs.
But how did they come about? What is their history?
Many elements influenced the emergence of four of the firsts Geographical Indications and their development. I want to thank Giulia Meloni who wrote the article ‘The political economy of Geographical Indications’ that helped me on my research about wine history to write this article.
The firsts delimitation of production areas or terroir were only for wine. In 1992 the law expanded to food.
The first terroir in history is the delineation of Burgundy wines in the fifteenth century. The first to receive a formal Geographical Indication status were Port wines in Portugal, Chianti wines in Italy and Tokay wines from Hungary in the eighteen century. But the first more elaborated specification of GIs like today’s was for Champagne. It was an “Appellations of Origin” (Appellations d’Origine–AO), today we call it ‘Protected Designation of Origin’.
In all cases, the Geographical Indication/terroir was later extended to a much larger region.
The beginning of the issue: conflicts between neighbours
In different times and contexts, it was always the same problem:
Imagine that you are a wine producer… You live in a vineyard in Europe, you make a wine that has a good reputation and high price. Then, the producers from the neighbour village start to produce wine and label it with the same name that YOU use to enjoy the reputation of the wine.
This makes you very angry. But instead of grabbing your crossbow and kill your copycat neighbour, you decide to join your winemaker neighbours. Together you form a union to pressure the country’s authorities to define the production zone.
You start to pressure the government to create protection or delimitation of the production land to leave outside the new producers.
Long story short: the government or authority figure decides to help your community by delimiting the production area.
The emergence of the first geographical delimitation of processing territories is related to international trade. These delimitations later gave rise to what we know today as geographical indications.
England in the 17th century was an important importer of wines from France, Spain, Italy and Portugal.
In parallel, these stories were very similar. As the trade of wine from Italy and Portugal to England increased, so did the number of producers in the Chianti region, located between Siena and Tuscany in Italy and the Duoro river coast region in Portugal. This generated problems between original and new producers. The situation changed when England went to war with France in 1688.
England increased the import tariffs for French wines. Thus two new important suppliers for English wine emerged: Port wine in Portugal and Chianti wine in Italy.
Portuguese wines travelled through the Douro river and were shipped to Britain via the port of Porto.
British wine merchants in Porto added brandy to the wine to resist the trip to Britain. This increased the alcohol content in wines. Moreover, to get the characteristic burgundy colour of port wine, the producers added elderberries.
Soon people started to know these wines as “Port wines” and they gradually became the main Portuguese wine exported to Britain.
It was the Marquis of Pombal who decided to delimit the Port wine production area.
335 stones called ‘feitoria’ delimitated the production area leaving out the new producers.
The English population perceived Port as a patriotic drink because it was not French wine.Port wine even became known as the “Englishman’s wine” since it was discovered, traded and consumed for centuries only by Englishmen.
They delimited the area and determined that port wine could be produced only with grapes from the Duoro region
Today, a third of these stones are still standing.
The Tuscan aristocracy complained that non-aristocratic families from Siena produced and exported a ‘false chianti’ because it was not produced in the Chianti region.
The old producers claimed that the wine of the new producers was lower quality and diminished the quality perceived by English consumers.
It was the Grand Duke Cosimo III to decide the Chianti wine delimitation to protect the reputation (and profits) of Chianti producers. It included the whole region of Tuscany, excluding Siena, its eternal rival.
The Tokaji wine
Your Majesty, Tokaji wine is a unique wine. It is obtained by grapes infected with a fungus called botrytis that dries them out. The wine obtained is sweet, hence the name: ‘nectar of kings, emperors, princes and their princesses.
Tokay wines have been legendary for over 400 years. It was first made in 1650 by the Rakoczi family winemaker in his vineyard called Oremus in Sárospatak.
The Tokaji is the first wine elaborated from grapes affected by noble rot, “Botrytis cinerea”. A century before the Rhine and about two centuries before Sauternes.
By far the best wines of the Ausburg. The Emperors appropriated the best vineyards with the intention of entertaining foreign monarchs.
Tokaji was the wine of the Tokaj region in the Kingdom of Hungary.
In Bordeaux, the Garonne river produces the same weather to get the noble rot essential to the wines of Sauternes. The same runs for Germany in the Mosel River.
In Alsace, France, and Friuli, Italy producers even donned the words “Tokay” or “Tokai” on their labels to market their wines. The name is also used for a small number of wines from the Slovak region of Tokaj in Slovakia. Since the beginning of the kingdom in the year 1000 until the end of World War I in 1918, this region was part of Hungary
This controversy resulted in the classification of the vineyards of Tokaj in 1730. In 1757 there was a noble decree to establish the closed production district of Tokaj.
With the treaty of accession of Hungary and Slovakia to the European Union, the name Tokaji achieved the status of Protected Designation of Origin. Since then, French and Italian producers cannot use the name Tokay or Tocai since March 2007.
The Cote d’Or, expensive wines with an old reputation that traded wines to the north of Europe and to the city of Avignon, the Pope residence at that time. They were expensive wines and allegedly the Pope’s favourite.
The second production area was the area of Auxerre on the coast of the river Yonne and Seine. The wine was less reputed, but the river was an easy position for them to trade wines to Paris.
This facilitated the entry to Paris but increased the competition between the two regions. According to the Cote d’Or producers, the wine had the same name but of different qualities. And they pressured the government to remove them from the production area.
Burgundy was the first GI, international trade conflicts made emerge Chianti and Porto wines and the last example is the first geographical indication that introduced a more elaborated specification. It was at the beginning of the 20th century and the first called Appellation of Origin or Protected Designation of Origin as we know it today.
Champagne, the first Appellation of Origin
In the 17th and 18th century, the wines of the Champagne region in France gained a great reputation. The ‘Champagne Houses’, Veuve Clicquot or Moet & Chandon, were wine producers and traders. They bought grapes or wine from the producers /(vignerons in French) to make ‘champagne’ under their brand.
And this attracted the attention of many neighbouring producers who started to produce wine and label it ‘champagne’. These producers were not in the traditional production region and did not respect the quality standards. The situation aggravated when phylloxera (grape sickness) arrived and affected the crops. From 1906 to 1908 the grape harvest decreased by 70%. Yet, there were no restrictions for producers to buy wine outside Marne and Aisne and make wine under the name Champagne. This meant that traders could buy grapes or wine of any quality or region and call it champagne, leading to fraud and poor quality wine.
The classic law of supply and demand would tell us that since the quantity of product was so low, wine prices would rise. But imports from Spain and Italy kept prices low. This led the wine producers and traders to pressure the government to limit the production area only to the Marne and Aisne region.
Later, in 1927 the appellation included the Aube, Haute-Marne and Seine-et-Marne departments, known before as the ”zone 2” of production. The region remains to this day. In 1908 the French government decreed that only wines produced with grapes from the Marne et Aube region could be called Champagne. Becoming the first legally recognized appellation of origin with quality standards in France.
Stories of neighbours bringing the best food and wine home
These stories between neighbours and conflicts may seem to rely on the economic interests of producers. But instead, they allow us to enjoy a pure Champagne, with the original grapes and production system that guarantee its quality.
The same applies to food. If today you can enjoy a Protected Designation of Origin cheese like Camembert de Normandie in France or Taleggio cheese is thanks to these regulations.
Thanks to Geographical Indications, Champagne sales and world consumption increased without devaluing its quality or changing its composition.
If today I find a Burgundy wine in the supermarket, I know that it is a Burgundy wine, the same Burgundy that the Pope enjoyed in 1415. If I find a Chianti wine, I know it is that Chianti that the Tuscans fought over at the end of the 17th century.
Today, in the 21st century and anywhere in the world, that same Chianti is in my house.
What do you think of this subject? Do you think other aspects influenced the expansion of Geographical Indications in Europe? Do you think the GIs are still expanding? Tell me all about it in the comments!