History of Parma Cuisine
Footnotes to Parmesan Gastronomy
"Parma cuisine... in Naples"
Vincenzo Corrado, known as the "Pythagorean Cook", was born in 1734 in Oria, near Lecce and died at the ripe old age of 103 in 1836 after having written a number of books on a range of subjects including education of the young and management of silkworms. But his claim to fame is his important gastronomic work, Il Cuoco Galante [The Gallant Cook] which was a major editorial success. By 1820, this book, printed in Naples, was in its sixth edition eoyj 7,500 copies in print, a record for those days when illiteracy was still rampant. It contained recipes for almost a thousand of the most popular dishes of the day, and many bear the description "alla parmigiana", or are prepared using specialties of the Parma area.
Among these are a number of foods that have historical or other interest: "Zinna di vacca al prosciutto di Parma" [Cow tit with Parma ham], boiled and served in a sauce of minced Parma ham, spices, white wine and capers; "Zuppa alla parmigiana", slices of bread placed in a soup tureen with spices and grated parmesan, then browned in the oven ; "Allesso di papera alla parmigiana", duckling with parmesan, milk-soaked bread and herb stuffing, poached and served in its broth; "Zucchettine alla parmigiana", baby zucchini fried and then cooked au gratin with butter and parmesan; "Prosciutto di Parma al tornagusto", made with a sauce of fat, sugar and flour moistened with stock, slices of Parma ham are added and cooked, the sauce reduced, white vinegar and bay leaf added, and it is served with fried croutons; "Rape alla parmigiana", turnip cooked in the traditional Parmesan way. The author included another fifty or so recipes from the Parma area in his cookbook which was, it should be remembered, intended for strictly Neapolitan tastes.
But the contact between Neapolitan and Parmesan cooking became a particularly evident factor in the history of cooking when Charles III of Bourbon left the ducal throne in Parma for the royal one in Naples.
With all the negative tendencies that attempt to drive a wedge between the north and south of Italy, it only seems fitting that, for once, emphasis be placed on something that unites North and South, in this case Parma and Naples, even if only in the kitchen.
From G. Gonizzi, Le memorie del Ciambellano. Storie di cucina nel Ducato. II, in Parma Capitale Alimentare, 44, 2000, pp 21-45.
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