Archive for the ‘Chestnuts’ Tag

Image: Chestnut collecting, c. 1900   Leave a comment

Postcard sent 1902 within Italy: photograph taken in Switzerland? SY

Posted December 26, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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Comment: On Chestnuts   Leave a comment

In a recent gastronomic insert of the Corriere dell’Umbria (16 Nov 2010, p.15),  there is an article called “Regina d’autunno dal bosco alla tavola” (Queen of Autumn from the Woods to the Table), which discusses ways to cook chestnuts. The author, Agnese Priorelli, underlines that chestnuts have been used for food since time immemorial, and mentions their use in many traditional dishes.

After these “historical” comments, Priorelli gives two recipes, one from the Gambero Rosso, a Slow Food publication: Duck Paté with Chestnuts. The recipe calls for duck breast, chestnuts, chicken livers, laurel leaves, onion, garlic, butter, pancetta (like bacon), white wine, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Though nowhere in the text is this recipe called “traditional,” the tone of the article (and, in fact, of the whole gastronomy insert) and the fact that the recipe is from a Slow Food cookbook, implies that this is a recipe that could have been eaten centuries ago.

Here again I see a desire for what I would call “philological food,” food that supposedly is the direct lineal descendant of ancestral culinary traditions, passed near-unchanged down through the ages, a cooking lets one fulfill the injunction of Mens sana in corpore sano through eating peasant food. But would an Italian peasant of, say, the mid-eighteenth century have made this dish. Given that the vast majority of Italians were poor, and the poor were effectively vegetarians, it’s unlikely. We can forget about duck breast, chicken livers, and pancetta (and even olive oil and wine, more than likely) being part of “popular” culinary traditions. The onion, salt, and garlic can stay, along with the laurel leaf, but the rest is an invention of more recent times, or is philological only with respect to a small upper class that could afford these products. ZN


Grazie a Daniela Buglione per la segnalazione.

Posted November 28, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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