Thursday, August 21, 2008

Milanese Soup

Once upon a time I tried to unravel the truth about risotto. The story was specifically about Risotto à la Milanaise, which is the sort of risotto you have when you want risotto in French. I came across an English interpretation of Milanaise risotto recently, and I present it here for the amusement or horror of my lovely friend Marisa, who lives all the way away in Melbourne. I can just see her now, in my kitchen, showing me how real Italians cook risotto, and waving the wooden spoon around to demonstrate that it must be all onde – like waves (did I spell that right, Marisa?). For years, in my head, that word was alonda. I just googled ‘all waves’ to find out the real word.

In a pre-Google life there was a lovely woman called Lady Clark of Tillypronie. She was a prolific collector of recipes, and after her death they were published, finally in 1909. Many of the recipes date much further back than that, and many of them have the name of the ‘donor’ and the date.

“Risotto,” a Milanese Soup (Cataldi)
Blanch the rice in a stewpan in water till it all but boils, then take it off to cool, and strain off all the water. Put it on the fire again with a little stock until it is quite cooked but not become a mere purée.
Stir in some grated Parmesan cheese, also a little fresh butter. Season delicately, and serve in a tureen, very hot.
This is eaten almost solid at Milan, but foreigners have plain clear soup offered to them to eat with their Risotto; the latter is thick as porridge.

Oh! Dear! What can one say? The English do great rice pudding?

Quotation for the Day …

Cuisine is when things taste like themselves...In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is the sign of perfection. Maurice Curnonsky (‘The Prince of Gastronomes’)

1 comment:

Anna said...

I have an interesting comment taken from Giorgio Locatelli's "Made in Italy"

"My grandmother's sister left Italy in the Fifties and went to live in Boston... When she came home some thirty years later, she always used to complain, 'The risotto isn't good any more', because in the time she had been in American the way we prepared risotto had changed. She still remembered how, as a child, she would put a fork into the rice and it has to stand upright, if the fork fell down, it wasn't a good risotto. Wheras now, in most regions of Italy ... the risotto ripples in waves, which we call all'onda."

It seems soft risotto is a relative new-comer in the millenia old tradition of "Italian cookery".