Monday, June 3, 2013
FORKING: ITALIAN STYLE
SUMMER BANQUET HOP AND GIVEAWAY!
Italians have made extraordinary contributions to the culinary world, but none
may be as important as the fork. While ancient history shows that large, two tinned forks were used as a cooking utensil as far back as Ancient Egypt (~3000 BC), they can be found in the same capacity, some made of bronze and some of silver, through the Bronze Age of Qinghai, China to the Roman Empire. But it was in Italy that the fork made its way onto the table as an eating utensil.
Through visiting dignitaries and diplomats, through marriages which brought such notables as Catherine de' Medici to the tables of other European countries, the fork made its way through the continent and into the hands of the people.
Thomas Coryat, an English traveler and writer of the late Elizabethan and early Jacobean age, gives a marvelous insight into the attitude of the fork as it made its journey. In his memoir of a European tour, one titled Coryat's Crudities: Hastily gobled up in Five Moneth's Travels, he wrote: 'because the Italian cannot by any means endure to have his dish touched with fingers, seeing all men's fingers are not alike clean. These 'little forks' were usually made of iron or steel, but occasionally also of silver.' Coryate says he 'thought good to imitate the Italian fashion by this forked cutting of meat, and hence a humorous English friend, in his merry humour, doubted not to call me furcifer, only for using a fork at feeding.' (The word fork comes from the Latin furca, meaning "pitchfork.")
But of course, Italians are not only famous for bringing the fork to Europeans tables, but they are as well, or more famously known for the delicious meals these forks were used to eat. It would be remiss to not include a recipe...one that can be found throughout Italian history dating back to the end of the Middle Ages all through to today's tables. It is a an Italian favorite: Vitello con Piselli (Veal and Peas)!
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper seed
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup veal stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup sweet peas
1/4 cup fresh basil chiffonade
1 cup pea tendrils, plus more for garnish
6-8 small veal tenderloins
Oven roast the shallots until tender and caramelized. Set aside.
Sauté garlic and red pepper seed on medium heat with a little olive oil until garlic is lightly browned. Add roasted shallots to pan and deglaze with wine. Add chicken and veal stock, tomato paste. Reduce by half on high heat until thickened. Add peas, tendrils and basil. Simmer until tender.
Grill veal tenderloins to medium rare.
Divide tenderloins between two plates and top each with the savory demi glaze. Garnish with pea tendrils. Serves 2.
In honor of Summer, food, and the Summer Banquet Hop, I will be giving away a copy of my latest book, The King's Agent, set in Renaissance Italy (a recipient of a starred review in Publishers Weekly) as well as a copy of Italian Classics Cook Book. To enter, you must sign up as a follower to this blog. For additional chances to win, leave a comment on this post, Friend me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter (@DonnaRussoMorin). Buona fortuna e buona tavola (good luck and good eating)! This giveaway is limited to the US residents only.
Be sure to visit the other Summer Banquet Hop participating bloggers for more intriguing historical food posts and more giveaways!