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Fried green tomatoes: the story of an Oscar dish – Italian Cuisine

Journey to discover one of the most famous dishes in the history of cinema, protagonist of a great film nominated for two Academy Awards in 199. And the recipe!

Tasty, golden, irresistible. Are the Fried Green Tomatoes, that recipe protagonist before the book Fried green tomatoes at Whistle Stop coffee and then of the 1991 film Fried green tomatoes at the train stop, a cult of the history of cinema, with those berries covered with bread that seemed to tie forever Idgie and Ruth, two women who were never afraid to fight against a world of rules that seemed to oppress them, bring them down to earth.

Fried Green Tomatoes.
Fried Green Tomatoes.


The recipe, typical of the tradition of the southern United States, becomes incredibly popular, thanks to a certain ease in preparation and a unique flavor, which goes well with the milk sauce. Unlike the red ones, the green tomatoes are very firm and almost completely seedless, not to be confused with the green unripe tomatoes. It is a dish that makes the kitchen more appetizing, not only for its luxuriant color, but also for a new crunchiness, to be proposed as an appetizer or as a side dish. Once washed and cut into slices, the difficult will be to make the batter. After sieving 80 grams of cornmeal and another 80 grams of 00 flour, mixing them with 10 grams of sugar, prepare separately two eggs beaten together with salt and pepper. At this point you will only have to pass the slices of tomato first in the eggs and then in the mix of two flours twice: only after having cooked them in boiling oil and having pulled them out at the right time, beautiful golden, will be ready to taste and to be served hot, with particular attention not to overlap them once laid on the tray covered with plenty of absorbent paper.

The aromas of the South, the colors and the breading, will awaken those pristine landscapes of America of the Thirties. In particular, bringing us back to Whistle Stop, the town where the railway locomotives darted like lightning bolts and where Idgie and Ruth find shelter from the dangers of the world, when they lovingly run a coffee in the city center fighting against the prejudice of the old men of the country. Those who did not tolerate the self-sufficiency of two young people, but also the friendship they had with black men, men who were only good slaves for obedience. And who knows what to bite a fried green tomato can not suggest a distant echo and that film lovers will recognize immediately. An echo called "Towanda".

The curious (and surprising) story of the cork – Italian Cuisine

Twenty years ago they had given it for goner: it was said that the invention of the synthetic cap, in 1999, would soon make it obsolete and useless. Today not just the cap of cork continues to live and a thrive (we find it on 12 billion bottles of 0.75 cl wine, or almost 2/3 of all those produced in the world), but in prospect it risks being swept up from his own success. The increase in consumption of wine (and the forecasts of a further boom thanks above all to the countries that are discovering it now, like the China he United States) carries the real risk of not having enough tappcork for everyone. This is why the sector of the cork is investing to increase the production, on the one hand developing innovations that improve the productivity (for example by reducing the time between crops) and on the other by setting up new ones cork. A policy that is good forenvironmentbecause cork oaks are exceptional: they absorb the anhydride carbon, make the land more manufacturing, they fight desertification, and act as a barrier fire. Even the cork industry is one of the most sustainable: takes care of the forests for decades (the first harvest takes place after 25 years), makes products recyclable and of the collected cork, do not throw anything away. And even less throw when the guaranteed cap without it will become common smell of cap. Incredible, right? Here's what I discovered during a travel among the cork trees of the Portugal of the group Amorim, which works a third of the world production of this material natural and that in 2017 has sold well 5.4 billion caps cork. Something like 25 million of caps a day!

167358 A sustainable cultivation
The cork oak is a plant of few pretensions. It grows on land poor (eg dry or sandy), requires little water and a warm climate. So, it is definitely Mediterranean. And indeed it is found in 2.2 million of hectares in the range from the Iberian peninsula to the Croatia, passing through Italy andAfrica Northern. Today the most important country is the Portugal, which supplies half of all the cork produced in the world. Italy, on the other hand, stops at 3.1% world production, with a product destined for other uses (for example the white one that grows in Sardinia it is used for the cigarette paper). Of course, get a good one cork it's not easy: it takes time, patience and care. And multi-year investments: cork oaks live up to 200 years (the oldest is in Portugal and is 234 years old) but they need 25 years to give the first "collected". And from a cut of the bark the tree (the so-called decortic) to the next one must wait for others nine years. Entering a cork oak, between May and July, when the sap emerges between the stem of the plant and its bark, see workers intent on "Bared" the oaks with their particular axes from edges rounded: first the bark and then the take off with a decisive blow, possibly whole. It seems an operation aggressive but in reality it is good for oaks: in fact, removing only the superficial part of the bark, the sap regenerates and the bark is reformed in a way natural. And calmly.

167370 A raw material with two sexes
What do the nativity scenes have to do with it? Naples with the Champagne Dom Perignon (the first to use cork stoppers in the 17th century)? They are made of the same material, cork, but "different" for quality. For the cribs we use the "Virgin cork", that is the one obtained from the first harvest of a plant. The first two "extractions", (the "male cork"), dark, hard and irregular, is used as insulating thermal and acoustic in buildings, but also under the fields of football, in the bathrooms and even in the ships space of the Nasa. It is when the third harvest arrives, that is afterwards 43 years, which is obtained the "cork female reproduction ": clear, often and regular. And, therefore, suitable to be transformed into perfect caps to protect the wine because they are waterproof, elastic and able to leave it to breathe. The processing is precise: the "sticks" of cork are first made to boil, then vaporize about 110 degrees and finally dried. So, beautiful clean, sanitized and flattened, are selected according to quality (for example, width and presence of defects, such as holes or stains). And only from the most "mashed potato" the caps are obtained One-piece. After a passage under one laser scanner, in which those that do not meet the quality standards are removed, the caps come washed, lubricated (so that they enter and exit easily from the neck of the bottles) and custom with the brands and images of the individual manufacturers of wine.

167373 A four-sided production
Probably you never noticed, but the caps cork they are not all the same. And it is not just about form but also about composition. The caps obtained from a piece full of cork (the so-called "Natural caps") are a minority: only the 30% of the collected cork has the characteristics necessary to make them. This is why i more expensive (and prestigious) and are mainly used for wines reserve and for those aged in the bottle. The rest 70% of cork is used for the production of technical caps: they are obtained agglomerating pieces of cork and are crowned by two floppy disks of natural cork. They are ideal for wines fruity is Young people. Instead for the Champagne and the sparkling wine (and for all sparkling or sparkling wines, but also for beer and cider) serve caps Special, able to withstand the pressure of carbon dioxide "bubbles". These caps are made from an agglomeration of cork and hill, cooked and covered at both ends by one washer of natural cork, and are characterized by the form a mushroom and from a larger diameter. The cellars very attentive to the image and the producers of spirit and distillates (whose bottles are opened and closed several times) prefer the stoppers covered from a capsule (also in precious materials, such as ceramics, wood or metal), which are very distinctive and of design, and take care of the color of the cap: in fact there are different types of wash that allow you to get different colors, a bit 'as it happens with maquillage. And every wine has its own "color"Of cap.

167364 A zero waste supply chain
That of the cap technical it was a brilliant invention because it allowed us to use everything that we did collects in cork and get a product more cheap and more suited to the demands of the current market, where the 90% of wines is consumed within a year of production. Innovation in this sector continues today. For example, in the last 15 years Amorim has invested 150 million euros in research and has managed to produce the "Zero cap", which is guaranteed fragrance free of cap. First he developed an analysis technology to identify the molecule that causes it (it's the tCA and it derives from the metabolism of a mushroom that can develop at the base of the tree) and the way it is develops (especially when it comes in contact with chlorine) and then has developed a method productive to eliminate this risk. By 2020 the Tca will be definitive eliminated. And then, smell of cork, adieu!

167361 A "double life" product
Not that the cork have nothing to hide; her "Second life" it is due to the fact that every cap can be recovered and recycled. Yet every year in Italy 800 million corks are thrown away. To recover them Amorim has started the project since 2010 Ethical, with which it has recovered over 400 tons of cork thanks to the help of approx 40 Onlus that collect them through the 6 thousand boxes Ethical set up throughout Italy at premises, companies and associations, but also during events, perhaps to recover the caps toast. Amorim buys from the non-profit organizations these used caps ground and turned into granules for the green building. The cork granulate is then used to produce other products intended to the automobile industry or aerospace.

Manuela Soressi
November 2018


In the oldest acetaia in the world, a new story about balsamic vinegar – Italian Cuisine

The Giusti family has been producing balsamic vinegar for more than 400 years and has just inaugurated an exhibition that tells about what is not just a simple ingredient, but a heritage of history and know-how

The products that represent the food and wine excellences of our country are not only good: they tell stories, they hide secrets, they pass on know how to do. THE'balsamic vinegar, for example, otherwise called theBlack Gold of Modena, whose first traces date back toRoman age and that still today comes to life in the barrels jealously preserved in the attics of the Modenese houses, with a heritage and a recipe transmitted from generation to generation.

The oldest vinegar in the world

What a charm acetaie: rows of ancient barrels, arranged in increasing order from the smallest to the largest, corked with a doily held in place by a stone or with a piece of jute, to let the vinegar breathe, but do not let the insects enter. The oldest he boasts to own it Giusti family which more than 400 years ago started the first barrels of batteries in the attics of the Via Farini house in Modena. At the helm of the Gran Deposito Balsamic Vinegar of Giuseppe Giusti, founded in 1605, they have succeeded over the centuries 17 generations, the last represented by Claudio Stefani Giusti, born in '73, who left a successful career as a manager in the consulting sector to collect the legacy of his ancestors and transport the company to a young and international dimension.

The 600 historic barrels of the 1700s and 1800s are still in operation.
The 600 historic barrels of the 1700s and 1800s are still in operation.

Good grapes, fine barrels and (a lot) of time: this is how the perfect balsamic vinegar is born

The rules for obtaining a "perfect" Balsamic vinegar? He wrote them in 1863 Giuseppe Giusti in occasion of the Modena Agricultural Exposition: choice of grapes, quality of the barrels and, fundamental, time. The more ancient the cask, the more intense the aromas and the character transmitted to the balsamic vinegar: for this reason the 600 historic barrels from the 1700s and 1800s still active are the heart of Acetaia Giusti: it is from here begins the long journey of aging balsamic vinegar.

The museum of balsamic vinegar

Since last October the vinegar factory is located in a new building, the old barn of a agricultural village of mid-nineteenth century completely restored, where it was also inaugurated a new and enlarged museum. The exhibit tells through 10 thematic rooms the long and fascinating history of balsamic vinegar, deeply linked to the city of Modena and the Giusti family. A journey through time and space, in the inestimable heritage of objects and documents preserved for generations: from the ancient jars used for conservation, to the tools used over the centuries by the vinegar makers, up to the first bottles and advertising posters of the early twentieth century. Among the most precious relics there are the casks as the "A3" barrel with which Giuseppe Giusti presented himself in Florence in 1861 on the occasion of the Italian Exhibition called by the Savoy, obtaining a gold medal for a 90-year-old balsamic. The Giusti family has always participated in the Expo of the late nineteenth century bringing the vinegar also directly into cask and in 1929 obtained the coat of arms of the king by Vittorio Emanuele III Vendors of the Real Casa Savoia.
If the museum finds space in what used to be the manor house of the village, a space for tastings and hospitality was set up in the former home of the workers: in 2017 20 thousand visitors came from all over the world. Because balsamic vinegar is not just a condiment, but an ingredient in all respects, and the demonstration of where ingenuity and passion can bring us.