Anginetti Cookies!

For the food fair I made Italian Lemon Drop cookies or Anginetti. I chose these biscuits because they are steeped in tradition: They are served at weddings, but also migrate into many holidays and special occasions. These biscuits are made in the Italian tradition of being not-too-sweet as opposed to American sugar cookies for example. Originally, the recipe came from Naples, but their influence has spread throughout Italy and the Diaspora. The recipe writer of my recipe clearly held a special place in her heart for these biscuits: they reminded her of family occasions and cultural identity: “It was taught to me by my mum’s mother”. The writer noted the recipe existed in different forms across Southern Italy with names such as Ginette. She also notes that variations in flavour exist across the regions, for example Licorice and Orange replacing the Neapolitan traditional Lemon. I struggled to create the ‘knot’ shape these biscuits famously have to symbolise a love knot for weddings! I layered them thickly in glaze, thicker than the recipe desired, to appeal to a sweeter tooth which is honed on Western desserts and sweet toppings. I presented them on a plate of contrasting colour, emulating the green and red theme of christmas where these would often be served. A few people commented on these biscuits which I was very pleased about! It was a great atmosphere.

 

https://afoodobsessionblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/my-favorite-christmas-cookie-the-anginetti-ciambelline/

Film Review – Dieta Mediterranea

This film to me is about female empowerment, through breaking the mold of career and passion. The tempestuous protagonist, Sofia, wants to cook, which is seen by her mother and father as unladylike. Cooking is cast as something passed down from grandmother to daughter, yet women cannot leave the domicile to make a career of it. We see Sofia’s conflict as she is lost unable to do what she is passionate about. However, I view this film as rather feminist. Sofia’s love affairs with Tony and Frank are stepping stones to her success, along with her own tenacity. Frank’s fondness for her, as well as his belief in her talent, cause him to ‘save’ her from a domestic reality with Toni where, as he misguidedly says, she doesnt need to work. Toni fails to understand her ambition so almost loses her. However when Sofia falls pregnant her dreams are nearly ruined as she attempts to juggle both careers. This reveals the hurdles for women in choosing to be loyal to their dreams, or the life processes of family. This film is foodie, because food is presented (in Line with Spanish cultural norms) as a family affair, as well as something almost eroticised, inspiring great love for Sofia and the guests at her restaurant. This certainly seems true looking at the government’s use of food as a device to stir up nostalgia and nationalism in the catalan (Anderson 2013). The film also suggests that food is inspired by love; Sofia’s cuisine without the trio romance of Toni and Frank lacks love and her harshness on her team causes failure and error.

Sources

Film ‘La Dieta Mediterranea’ starring Olivia Molina

Anderson, L 2013, ‘Cooking up the nation: Spanish Culinary texts & Culinary nationalization in the Late 19th and Early 20th Century’, Monografias A, vol. 321, pp.

Investigating Crepes Suzette

Priscilla Parkhurst-Ferguson (2003) talks about Careme, an “extremely gifted cultural entrepreneur” who standardised french cuisine techniques and methods, as well as moving them from the aristocracy to the public. Crepes Suzette gained fame at the turn of the 20th century in the public sphere, elegant restaurants, where the dishes still followed Careme’s codification of french cooking, before nouvelle cuisine hit the scene in the 1970s. His cuisine was criticised as “overwrought, excessive [and] fearfully expansive”. Crepes suzette is suitably fancy: Grand Marnier, candied orange and caramel are showily flambeed and spread upon paper thin crepes. The emphasis is on a set of techniques (and a French emphasis on rich sauces) (discussed by Gollner in juxtaposition to Nouvelle Cuisine) and on detailed presentation. The recipe was invented in Paris due to a cooking mistake! The crepe caught fire unintentionally. Crepes however are regional to Britony, a region with French and German influence. Crepes were also associated with religion and typically prepared for “Le Candlemas”, celebrating when Jesus is presented to god. While regionally they were used as a daily bread, internationally they have been subverted into a luxurious dessert after dinner or lunch. These exist all over the world, from cream filled cake-filled interpretations in Harajuku Japan, to Roule Galette, a French-speaking French-menued crepe resturant on Flinders lane, which serves both Briton and Paris-ified crepe recipes along with French cider.

sources

https://whatscookingamerica.net/History/CrepesSuzetteHistory.htm

Parkhurst Ferguson, P. “Writing out of the Kitchen: Carême and the Invention of French Cuisine.” Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture 3(3) (2003): 40-51.

Gollner, A. ‘The New Nouvelle Cuisine’ New York Times

 

Exploring a foodscape: Lygon St, Faraday to Argyle Square

Exploring this section of foodie heaven was contrasting. On one hand almost every restaurant had identifiably Italian features: The waiters outside and ambience of streetside tables created a human, bustling layout full of character. Many restaurants used Italian streetscape facades, e.g. Striped awnings, checkered tablecloths, wicker seating. The smell of oregano/basil, traditional Italian and French music, the accents and language use in both menus and in waiters’ dialogue all appeared traditional. However, as with french Nouvelle cuisine, below the surface restaurants hybridize and innovate within the label of ‘Italian’, arguably reflecting “the true spirit of [Melbourne], as with France (Rao 2009). Carmines Bistro takes a variety of ingredients such as steak, macaroni pasta, chorizo sausage, haloumi cheese etc, and renders them in an Italian language menu and environment, as well as the Italian style of consumption (family style, utilising available and fresh produce sourced local). The immigrant ‘local’ is obviously destined to constantly morph. Restaurants such as Carmines capitalise on the ingredients available and favoured due to globalisation of ingredients. This is the same reality which led to El Gallo Pinto, a Nicaraguan and Costa rican national dish which was originally Afro caribbean, becoming nationalised due to the availability of rice on the market. Also I wonder if market tastes, such as Australians preferring American food influences, change what the restaurants serve, moving away from Italian influence to appeal to the local consumer. In Melbourne this consumer could be from basically anywhere!

sources

Carmine’s bistro website

https://www.broadsheet.com.au/melbourne/food-and-drink/article/lygon-street-and-carlton-precinct

Vega Jimenez, P. ‘El Gallo pinto: Afro-Caribbean rice and beans conquer the Costa Rican national’. 

Rao, H. (2009). “The French Revolution: Collective Action and the Nouvelle Cuisine Innovation.” Market Rebels: How Activists Make or Break Radical Innovations. Princeton University Press. pp. 69-94.

Paella

I decided to take an investigation into Paella. This dish didn’t even factor as a national dish in the initial letters between Dr Thebussem and the King Alfonso XII’s chef. These two wanted Spain to have a national culinary identity and didn’t think the highly regional Paella could make the cut (Anderson 2009, pp. 222). From the website ‘The Paella compny’ I discovered Paella defines a group of over 200 recipes. Traditionally, Paella originally contained chicken, rabbit, snails, green beans and white beans. This dish began as something cooked by men for lunchtime only, never dinner. It was eaten by farmers. It promoted the regional ingredients of Valencia, particularly a unique breed of rice they grew. This became imported and in lieu of that virtually ANY rice is used in the international context. It traditionally was, and still is, eaten in a group/family context – each person eats directly from the paella (the name means the pan too). The dish has been a source of pride for the nation. Pujol (2009) mentions prominent Catalan chef Santi Santamaria’s argument that the ingredients and materials of cooking are what is truly Catalan cuisine, which I think applies to any regional cuisine. If this is true then many non-Valencian recipes have moved far away from what is regional. These recipes are also not a product of the region’s changing influences, which the Spanish government marketed as a key facet of Catalan cuisine. There was a transformation of Valencian food through immigration and trade change, as through the years seafood was added to Paella recipes due to this. However in Melbourne for example, I ate a paella with chorizo, mussels, prawn and calamari, very far from the local Valencian seafood of eels, fish such as cod and squid.

Sources:

https://www.thepaellacompany.co.uk/history.html

Pujol, A 2009, ‘Cosmopolitan taste: the Morphing of new Catalan Cuisine’ Food, Culture and Society, vol 12, Issue 4, pp. 437 – 455

Anderson, L 2013, ‘Cooking up the nation: Spanish Culinary texts & Culinary nationalization in the Late 19th and Early 20th Century’, Monografias A, vol. 321, pp. 120-125