Tag: queen

Caterina De’ Medici, the gourmet queen – Italian cuisine reinvented by Gordon Ramsay

Caterina De' Medici, the gourmet queen

On Catherine de’ Medici we already know a lot but thanks to Marina Migliavacca, a writer and journalist who likes to say that there is more history to tell inside a typical dish than inside a castle, now we will know even more. In her pages she deals with past centuries, society and customs. Here is her story of the foodie queen.

Catherine de’ Medici, the gourmet queen

The friendliest ones called it la Queen Mother, for having brought into the world so many crowned heads; the most critical ones there Black Queen, and not only for his mourning after his premature widowhood. All kinds of vices have been attributed to Caterina de’ Medici, great-granddaughter of Lorenzo the Magnificent: superstitious, power-hungry, poisoner… But beyond the great debate about her, the adjective that best suits her he is undoubtedly a much happier “gourmet”. A gourmet noblewoman, who from her native Florence arrived in France at the age of fourteen to marry the future king, effectively “educated” the court of Paris in what today we would call Made in Italy.

His is not a love marriage. She is neither beautiful nor very noble, she is small, round and with eyes a bit like a Medici frog. The “fat shopkeeper”, they call her. In addition, for the first ten years she is unable to have children and her husband has a wonderful lover, Diana of Poitiers. But Caterina has other strings in her bow: she is intelligent, cultured, above all she is what today we would define as a trend setter. He arrives at court with Florentine, Tuscan and Sicilian cooks and pastry chefs who will set the example. She is curious about taste, she knows that sitting at the table doesn’t just mean filling your stomach, but surrounding yourself with beautiful things. She teaches the French to use the fork, perfumes the damask tablecloths with clover and sweet clover, introduces the napkin, makes the plates change between one course and another, divides the sweet service from the savory service… These are not things that she invented , of course, but he made them everyday life.

Then there is something deeply sentimental in the fact that the young “Italian abroad” tries to find the flavors of home on her plate and really likes vegetables, from the beloved artichoke to those that he considered healthy (and even aphrodisiac), such as shallots, peas, beans, perhaps seasoned with oil from the Tuscan hills. What she cannot know for sure, by making the increasingly conquered courtiers taste particular delights such as sorbets or crepes, is that the recipes that she will import into France will have a funny fate reserved for them. They will like them so much that French chefs will make them their own, to the point that today we all think that they originate from France!

From the duck to the orange tree it will become canard à l’orange to the very Tuscan onion soup they will call soupe à l’oignonup to the glue sauce, renamed bechamela cultural short circuit is created in which Caterina will also be the protagonist in many aspects of daily life, such as when, to ride comfortably without causing scandal, she introduced the use of long shorts to wear under the skirt, or to overcome her short stature he will have high shoes made by Florentine artisans, or he will commission his perfumer Renato Bianchi, who will become Master René for the French, delicate essences of iris (iris for the French), which is none other than the beautiful lily of Florence!

Article appeared in La Cucina Italiana, March 2022
recipe texts LAURA FORTI

the queen of sauces that enhances every dish – Italian Cuisine

the queen of sauces that enhances every dish

Bechamel is the queen of sauces. 10 rules to prepare the béchamel to perfection

There bechamel it is a sauce of French origin that has been part of our culinary tradition for a very long time now. It is also known as mother sauce because with the béchamel many other sauces are prepared, such as mornay which is a slightly richer version.
There are no lasagna and cannelloni without bechamel, but not even baked pasta and vegetable pies, or gratins of any kind.

Many buy it, perhaps because they don't know that preparing it at home is really very simple.
The ingredients and the steps are few, you just need to follow a few rules.

Ingredients of bechamel

Let's start with the ingredients first that for half a liter of béchamel are 500 ml of milk, 40 grams of butter, 40 grams of flour, salt and nutmeg.

How to prepare the bechamel

1. The fat part, ie the butter, and the flour according to the original recipe must have the same weight.

2. You need to use a pot with high enough sides. Better if non-stick.

3. Melt the butter over medium heat and then, if it is not clarified, wait for the bubbles to reduce, that is, the water has evaporated.

4. The flour should be added all at once and mixed quickly with a hand whisk.

5. Stir until the mixture becomes liquid and without lumps. This is the time when you need to be more careful.

6. Cook for a couple of minutes for the flour to taste and absorb fat.

7. The mixture of butter and flour is called roux and you can also use it to thicken other sauces or cooking stocks.

8. To prepare the bechamel, milk must be added to the roux. It must be cold and must be added in one go and mixed quickly.

9. Cook everything, stirring until it reaches a fairly thick consistency. Then lower the heat to low and cover for five minutes. The bechamel is ready when you veil the spoon.

10. When cooked, add a pinch of salt and nutmeg.

And if you want to prepare a quick bechamel try it with the microwave!

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The best pizzerias of Gambero Rosso: Campania always queen – Italian Cuisine

The best pizzerias of Gambero Rosso: Campania always queen

Honor to the pizza chefs, in this difficult season: this is what the specialized guide who indicated the best of 650 addresses in Italy wanted to do. 93 winners, all on the same level, with the leading region of pizza threatened by Tuscany

The pizzerias live (and fight with us) in the most difficult season of the new century. If we want to go beyond the technical aspect, this is the message that comes from Gambero Rosso 2021 Guide to Italian Pizzerias which was presented in streaming. A different guide, of course, from the seven that preceded it: Gambero has chosen to indicate the best among the 650 addresses he mapped throughout Italy. It has them distinguished as always according to the degree of excellence – by marking them with one, two or three segments and wheels – thus putting aside, for once, the nuances of merit and therefore the numerical score. The reason? Recognize the difficulties that all pizza makers, together with the rest of the catering sector, have experienced in recent months, but also their skill, because they have been able to reinvent themselves in the face of an emergency, showing resourcefulness and team spirit.

From here, a guide that also this year tells how the world of pizza is evolving, and all the nuances of the Italian dish par excellence, dividing them by categories: Neapolitan, Italian (in regional variants), gourmet, by the slice. The winners are 93, with 13 new entries, but also many confirmations at the top starting from Francesco Martucci of I Masanielli di Caserta (who is also number one in the ranking for the best pizzas of 50 Top Pizza), also awarded as "master of the dough" like Simone Lombardi, patron of the small but beloved Crosta in Milan. But at the top there are also Franco Pepe, Gabriele Bonci, Enzo Coccia, Renato Bosco, Simone Padoan, Antonio Sorbillo, Ciro Salvo: all cult names for fans.
Campania remains at the top with 19 award-winning clubs, followed by Tuscany with 18, Lazio with 17, Veneto with 8; Piedmont with 7; Lombardy with 6; Sicily with 4; Abruzzo, Sardinia, and Emilia – Romagna with 3; Liguria, Basilicata, Marche, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Calabria with 1. Naples and Rome are certainly the capitals of good pizza, respectively with 9 and 12 reports at the top. In the gallery the places that have received special recognition from the guide.

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