Sunday, 21 July 2013

The FIRST tomato recipes 1692-4

It is difficult to fathom the vast gulf separating home cooking from large scale food preparation. Every now and then I offer a lecture/demo/tasting that requires cooking on an extraordinary scale and I am always astonished and exhausted afterwards. The gig is downtown Stockfish, at the Cesar Chavez Library, tomorrow (Monday) at 6:30. DO come, it's free. I'm talking about Antonio Latini's Lo Scalco alla Moderna (1692-4) and cooking three recipes. One of which is among the first three recipes ever printed for tomatoes. It's a minestra alla molignane - or a kind of eggplant stew with squash, onions, tomatoes, spices and oil. That's about it. Oh and verjus. Normally I would sautee the eggplant and onions, add the tomatoes and parsley, etc. And let it cook for half an hour or so. It's sort of an intriguingly spiced ratatouille or version of caponata. But this version is 11 big eggplants, sauteed in 11 separate batches, then a pile of onions browned, then then a big bag of tomatoes and then zucchine cut up and it is now in oven for a few hours. It will be great at room temperature tomorrow, for a crowd estimated at about 50. But this took like 2 1/2 hours just in prep work. HOW do people cook in a restaurant?? I think everyone should try something on this scale just to appreciate the labor involved.

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