Monday, May 07, 2007

Clubbing and Banqueting.

Today, May 7th ...

The movie version of the death of Chicago mobsters John Scalise, Albert Anselmi, and Joe Giunta on this night in 1929 is that they were bludgeoned to death at the banquet table with a baseball bat wielded by Al Capone himself, who then riddled them with bullets to be sure they were appropriately punished for plotting against him.

Movie truth is not real truth however, and the real truth is that the real truth will probably never be discovered - all of the other protagonists in that particular set of Chicago’s gangland wars having long since gone one of the ways that gangsters tend to do. Certainly the bodies of the three men were found battered and bulletted early the next morning, but the police and coroner believed (or stated) the next day that the murders were “Just a message from ‘Bugs’ Moran’s boys” in retaliation for the St Valentine’s Day massacre. The credit for the deaths only became attributed to Al Capone some time later, and no doubt it did his reputation no harm at all.

There is, not surprisingly, a dearth of information on the banquet itself – although if Al did the job himself, it was probably held at his headquarters at the Hawthorne Inn in Cicero. A menu would have been an interesting memento, yes? We must make up our own commemoration dinner, and a nice Italian-American dish from the era would seem very appropriate. My choice is Chicken Cacciatora, which is also particularly visually appropriate on account of its rich, red, unctuous sauce and its name, which translates as “in the style of the hunter”.

Chicken Alla Cacciatora, (Pollo alla cacciatora)
Chop one large onion and keep it for more than half an hour in cold water, then dry it and brown it aside. Cut up a chicken, sprinkle the pieces with flour, salt and pepper and sautè in the fat which remains in the frying pan. When the chicken is brown add one pint fresh or canned tomatoes and half a dozen sweet green peppers and put back the onion. When the gravy is thick enough add hot water to prevent the burning of the vegetables. Cover the pan tightly and simmer until the chicken is very tender. This is an excellent way to cook tough chickens. Fowls which have been boiled may be cooked in this way, but of course young and tender chickens will have the finer flavor.
[The Italian Cook Book: The Art Of Eating Well, Practical Recipes Of The Italian Cuisine, Pastries, Sweets, Frozen Delicacies, And Syrups; Compiled By Maria Gentile’ c1919]

[P.S. You could serve this with a salad liberally sprinkled with capers in recognition of one of the popular names of the little event, which was “The Indian Club Caper”]

Tomorrow’s Story …

Not much Cheese.

Quotation for the Day …

Do not be afraid of simplicity. If you have a cold chicken for supper, why cover it with a tasteless white sauce which makes it look like a pretentious dish on the buffet table at some fance dress ball? Marcel Boulestin; chef (1923)


T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

My, my. Murder in the kitchen? Clubbing and Banqueting? What happened to civilized dining? It does reinforce the fact that most family dramas play out at the dinner table. (I do love Chicken Cacciatora!)

The Old Foodie said...

There is a very thin veneer of civilisation over many dinner parties I fear. A good rule is to insist that all weapons are left at the door, dont you think?