#241 I miss Carnevale – 4

Il Carnevale di Venezia was mentioned for the fist time in an official document in 1094, and declared a public feast in 1296 by the Senato della Repubblica.

The people all around Venice used to wear masks and costumes in order to hide their identity, breaking any social/gender/religious barrier

The typical characters of the Commedia dell’arte became popular carnival costumes: the stupid servant Zanni, the wise one Arlecchino, the old greedy man Pantalone, the arrogant doctor Balanzone, the beautiful maid Colombina…

Saluti da Venezia

(See also “I miss Carnevale – 1 – 2 – 3





#240 I miss Italian vintage recipes – 2

The word polpetta (‘meatball’) appeared for the first time in the recipes book written by Martino from Como. Prominent cook and culinary expert, Martino served Francesco Sforza in Milano, and than the Papal Court and the Patriarch of Aquileia. His Libro de arte coquinaria (‘Book on the art of cooking’) was published in 1465.

Maestro Martino’s polpette are made with veal meat, fennel seeds, parsley, majoram, lard, and pepper. They were actually involtini, rolls made with thin slices of veal, filled with the other ingredients finely chopped and mixed.

What a bout a  bowl of home made tagliatelle in a good meat broth with spices and pecorino cheese, followed by pork marinated with aceto balsamico, wine, sweet and bitter oranges and spices, with a side of eggplant with erbs?

All recipes by Bartolomeo Scappi, another famous Renaissance chef, author of Opera dell’arte del cucinare (‘The work on the art of cooking’)

(See also “I miss Italian vintage recipes – 1 https://misshome.wordpress.com/2014/02/23/236-i-miss-italian-vintage-recipes-1/ )

#239 I miss cioccolata calda

Here in the States hot chocolate is a beverage made of milk or water (!) and chocolate powder.

Someone adds marshmallows.

But in Italy a good cioccolata calda, is dark, thick, and made with milk only, perhaps with a nice topping of sweet, heavy, whipped cream (the real one).


Needless to say that the average Italian doesn’t even know what a marshmallow is.

#238 I miss Carnevale – 3

As the Romans said: Semel in anno licet insanire

‘once a year it is allowed to go crazy’

This Latin sentence became a proverb in the Middle Ages, and was often used to describe carnevale.

In the Middle Ages it was the period of craziness right before Lent, time of privation and prayer.

(Peter Brugel, Carnival versus Lent, Carnival is represented by people on the left, Lent is the ugly, skynny, old woman on the right)

In the XV century great feste carnascialesche (‘festivals’) were organized in bigger cities, with music, dance, and songs,

Lorenzo the Magnificent organized big celebrations with canti carnascialeschi (‘Carnival songs’), such as his Trionfo di Bacco e Arianna by Lorenzo the Magnificent, and trionfi, procession with big and extravagant floats, inspired to mythological figures and designed by the greatest artists

Huge carri allegorici (‘allegorical floats’) are still used in many carneval festivals all around Italy, such as Viareggio

(See also “I miss carnevale – 1 – 2” https://misshome.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/229-i-miss-carnevale-1/

https://misshome.wordpress.com/2014/02/19/232-i-miss-carnevale-2/ )

#237 I miss biscotti – 2

Amaretti, from amaro, ‘bitter’.

Macaron-like almond cookies, from Saronno, Lombardia

like the liquor

Fiocchi di neve ‘snow flakes’

almond cookies typical of Ragusa, Sicily

Baci di dama ‘lady’s kisses’

bite-size, hazelnut and chocolate cookies.

Miss them!

(See also “I miss biscotti – 1” https://misshome.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/234-i-miss-biscotti-1/ )

#236 I miss Italian vintage recipes – 1

What about a nice roasted lamb with prunes and spice? Sounds yummy.

and pears pudding for dessert?

Not bad right?

They are both recipes from De re coquinaria, written by the Roman author Marcus Gavius Apicius.

Agnus Parthicum

Mittens in furnum. Teres piper, rutam, cepam, satureiam, damascena enucleata, leseris modicum, vinum, liquamen et oleum. Fervens colluitur in disco, ex aceto sumitur.

(Lamb Parthian style: baked with pepper, rue, onion, santoreggia, plums, oil and wine)

Patina de piris

Pira elixa et purgata e medio teres cum pipere, cumino, passo, liquamine, oleo modico. Ovis missis patina facies, piper super asperges et inferes

(Pear cake: chop some boiled pears, mix with pepper, cumin, honey, sweet wine and eggs. Bake it)

#235 I miss risotto – 2

Risotto and more specifically Il Risotto alla milanese, with saffron, is the symbol of Milano.

(Risotto and  ossobuco)

Rice was introduced in Europe in the XIV century, the House of Aragona ruled southern Italy at that time, and apparently they brought rice in Napoli.

Only later on it became popular in Northern Italy.

Saffron was used by painters, and, according to the legend, a flamish artist working in the Duomo di Milano, one day was eating his lunch at work, and by mistake pour some saffron in the bowl of rice he was eating. The yellow rice looked so yummy, he tasted it and… et voilà.

A different version says that rice with saffron was common among the Jewish community.

Whatever is the truth, in the XVI century, official documents describe risotto as the most traditional milanese dish.

(See also “I miss risotto – 1” https://misshome.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/230-i-miss-risotto-1/ )