mercoledì 16 marzo 2011

150th Anniversary of the Birth of the Republic of Italy

Here is a new post published and written by the famous Italian blog Tracce Di Cibo. Enjoy!

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of birth of the Republic of Italy, I thought that the best dish to represent this great moment would be the “Insalata Caprese”.

Let’s look back at some history first. As with all the best inventions, especially the culinary ones like Pasta and Pizza, the Insalata Caprese has undefined origins. Some people say that it was invented by a very patriotic and bon-vivant bricklayer who wanted to put the three colors of the Italian flag all together in one delicious sandwich.

The first historical mention was in the 1920s when the Insalata Caprese appears in a menu of a futuristic dinner at the Quisisana Hotel in Capri.  It was here, in the summer of 1924, that Filippo Tommaso Marinetti , founder of the futurism, couldn’t stand the traditional Italian pasta anymore because it was too “heavy”… I wonder did Marinetti & Co.  know that the Insalata Caprese isn’t as light as it seems…

Also decades later, in the 1950s, the gossip columns of the time reported that King Farouk, at his request for something light but different, to satisfy his afternoon peckishness, was served a mouth-watering sandwich with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil.

But where does the Italian flag (the tricolor flag that represents all of us and that has the same colours as the Insalata Caprese) come from? …I found out!….

The Italian flag was created before the birth of the Italian Republic. In fact it was created in 1794 when two Italian students, Giovanni Battista De Rolandis and Liugi Zamboni, tried to rebel against the absolute power that was controlling their city for over 200 years.

The choice of the three colours is connected to the symbol of the three theological virtues: green for hope, white for faith and red for charity. These symbolic and patriotic colours are mentioned more than once in famous literary works - the most famous and prestigious of these being Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy” ;in which he describes a scene with these three colors in it. (“così dentro una nuvola di fiori che da le mani angeliche saliva e ricadeva in giù dentro e di fori, sovra candido vel cinta d’uliva donna m’apparve, sotto verde manto vestita di color di fiamma viva.” - Purgatorio, canto XXX, versi 28/33).

The Insalata Caprese is also a map of the territory and culture of Italian cookery, because it contains some of the most symbolic products:

Tomato - vegetable which you can find in half the country in all its varieties: San Marzano, Sardo,’s the main ingredient in sauces and toppings for Pasta and Pizza, which are another symbol of Italy.

Mozzarella: the greatest and most popular Italian cheese! It’s made all over the country but the best ones are the Bufala from Campania and the Burrata from Puglia.

Basil: typical herb from Liguria which unfailingly reminds us of the Pesto sauce.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Last but not least the Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which the Mediterranean diet can’t do without, has a historical past that is famous all over the world.

And so here is the delicious Italian Insalata Caprese recipe, which in its great simplicity and sophistication represents the perfection of the Italian soul which may be sometimes a little too overwhelming but is always full of good taste.

·         Tomatoes
·         Mozzarella
·         Basil
·         Extra Virgin Olive Oil
·         Dried oregano
·         Salt

Wash and cut the tomatoes in thick slices.
Drip dry and cut the mozzarella cheese into slices or cubes.
Add some basil leaves (torn roughly by hand).
Add a tablespoon of oil, salt and oregano.