April 7 ...
The New York Tribune made mention of granita on this day in 1887, in an article which explained that ‘granites … must be frozen without much beating, or even much stirring, as the design is to have a rough, icy substance.’ Mark Twain knew of granita a couple of decades earlier . In Innocents Abroad (1867) he described the scene in
As for granita, the word comes from the same origin as the word granite (as in the rock type) which refers to its grainy or granular (rough) texture.
We have ice-cream machines and freezers nowadays to make the job virtually fool-proof, but the earliest granita and sorbet makers had to rely on the ice and salt churn to make their sorbets and granitas – or ‘water-ices’ as they were called.
Here is a recipe from 1807, from The Complete Confectioner: Or, The Whole Art of Confectionary Made Easy ... by Frederick Nutt. It sounds wonderful. We don’t use
Seville Orange Water Ice.
Take the rind of two Seville oranges off very fine and thin ; squeeze them into a bason with one lemon; add two gills of syrup* and half a pint of water; pass them through a sieve and freeze them rich.
[* My note: a standard granita syrup is made in the ratio of 1:1 sugar and water: stir over heat until the sugar dissolves, then boil for a few seconds, then take off the heat and cool]
Tomorrow’s Story …
Quotation for the Day …
Given the clientele, the restaurants on Capri might resemble those fancy Northern Italian places on the East Side of Manhattan where the captain has taken bilingual sneering lessons from the maitre d’ at the French joint down the street and the waiter, whose father was born in Palermo, would deny under torture that tomato sauce has ever touched his lips. Calvin Trillin, Third Helping.