Margarita Pizza

Margureite

Prepare yourself for nonsense:  Marguerite Piazza, the American Soprano, was born on this day in 1920.

The Pizza Margherita is a Neapolitan classic of Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil, the colours of the Italian flag.  There is a story that the famous Pizza was invented in honour of Margherita of Savoy, Queen of Italy, to celebrate Italian Unification, in 1889.

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This is considered now to be a false history, like many tales of the invention of famous dishes.  There is a competing theory that the Pizza Margherita is named for the pretty flower pattern in which the Mozzarella slices were presented on the pizza, representing a daisy flower, the Italian for which is margherita.

The Spanish for daisy is margarita, which is also the name of a famous tequila drink from Mexico, a country with the same tricolour flag as Italy.

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But the origin of the drink actually comes from the Latin word margarita which means pearl, as in the maxim “margaritas ante porcos” meaning pearls before swine.  The margarita drink is named after the latin for pearl, as it is a pearly colour, and that may also explain why it is served with a ring of salt on the rim of the glass.

Image result for classic margarita drink

As to the American soprano, her real name was Marguerite Clair Lucille Luft.  She took her mothers maiden name, Piazza, as her stage name.  A Piazza is a square, not a pie.  So her stage name translates as Daisy Square.

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I passed on a piece ‘a pizza in the piazza in Pisa in the past.  But not with Margherita.

Now, I ordered ages ago.  Where are my pizza and my margarita?  And do not get them mixed up again.

pizza

Happy Birthday Pablo Neruda

Marmandes

Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto was born this day in 1904.  He ‘borrowed’ his pen name from a Czech poet, Jan Neruda.  A brilliant poet, a nobel laureate, nationalist and politician.  He was murdered under orders of Augusto Pinochet by a doctor treating him for cancer.  Pinochet staged a Coup D’état against the legally elected government of President Allende.

Pinochet was able to do this because he was supported by the US Government and received direct support from the CIA.  That’s American democracy for you!  Democracy for Americans who live in the United States, just not for all Americans, unless it is the right kind of democracy.

Enough with the politics, July is the month of tomatoes.  I planted Marmandes this year.  See the photo!

 

Ode to Tomatoes: by Pablo Neruda

The street
filled with tomatoes
midday,
summer,
light is
halved
like
a
tomato,
its juice
runs
through the streets.
In December,
unabated,
the tomato
invades
the kitchen,
it enters at lunchtime,
takes
its ease
on countertops,
among glasses,
butter dishes,
blue saltcellars.
It sheds
its own light,
benign majesty.
Unfortunately, we must
murder it:
the knife
sinks
into living flesh,
red
viscera,
a cool
sun,
profound,
inexhaustible,
populates the salads
of Chile,
happily, it is wed
to the clear onion,
and to celebrate the union
we
pour
oil,
essential
child of the olive,
onto its halved hemispheres,
pepper
adds
its fragrance,
salt, its magnetism;
it is the wedding
of the day,
parsley
hoists
its flag,
potatoes
bubble vigorously,
the aroma
of the roast
knocks
at the door,
it’s time!
come on!
and, on
the table, at the midpoint
of summer,
the tomato,
star of earth,
recurrent
and fertile
star,
displays
its convolutions,
its canals,
its remarkable amplitude
and abundance,
no pit,
no husk,
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
its gift
of fiery color
and cool completeness.

 

Home Made

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This jar contains some Chutney I made yesterday.  It is probably the most home made thing I have ever made.  It is a subtle blend of Ireland, Morocco and India, which would place it physically somewhere around Turkey.  Here is the recipe.

1. Plant Onions and Tomatoes in the Spring.

2.  Buy some organic un-waxed lemons some time around July.  Pickle the lemons in Salt and lemon juice with a selection of spices such as mustard seed, whole black pepper, coriander, cumin and whole red chiles.  There are lots of recipes for “Moroccan preserved lemon” on the internet.  I got mine from Casa Moro:  The second cookbook.  http://www.amazon.com/Casa-Moro-The-Second-Cookbook/dp/0091894492

3.  Harvest plums and apples from your garden.

4.  Buy 1 red chili, some white balsamic vinegar and some sugar.  ( we just don’t have the climate in Ireland to grow grapes for vinegar, cane for sugar, chilies and lemons).

5.  In a pot mix a good glug of the vinegar with sugar.  Fiddle with the proportions to your taste.  Some people like more vinegary pickle, I like it sweeter.

Chop up lots of bruised windfall cooking apples, discard the brown bits and use only firm fresh white apple.  Mix the apple well into the vinegar and sugar to stop it browning.

Add sliced onions from your garden, ditto sliced tomato – green is fine.  Add chopped plum, finely sliced fresh red chile.

Remove a lemon from your pickle jar, scrape off the flesh with a spoon, discard, and wash the skin well in fresh water.  Slice the skin finely and add to the chutney.

Add a good spoon of well ground Panchphoran. (this is an Indian 5 spice mix of onion seed, cumin, mustard seed, fenugreek and fennel which brings out vegetable flavours very well)

6.  Boil the chutney until the apple is pureé and then stick it in a sterilised jar.  (OK I didn’t make the jar either – but I reused an old one, so that is environmentally friendly)

The red chili gives this chutney a kick.  If you prefer mild chutney you can leave it out.

It got the ultimate vote of confidence from my 18 year old son who said, and I quote verbatim “well, it’s not completely disgusting“.  Children have such confidence in their parents culinary arts.

On a historical note, Chutney achieved fame because of the British Navy.  In the search for prophylactics against scurvy the British Navy experimented with various foodstuffs, many of them pickles such as sauerkraut (used by Captain Cook on his voyages to good effect).  Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries various foods and drinks were experimented with, including lime chutney and lime cordial.  In reality neither was effective in treatment of scurvy and it is the availability of fresh food that cures scurvy.  However, chutney gained in popularity among the British in the Caribbean,  in India and ultimately at home in England.  In the Victorian era fortunes were made in the production of sauces which owe their origin to chutney, such as Ketchup and Brown Sauce.

Full of Beans

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Did a lot of gardening and DIY this week.  Tidied up the downstairs toilet by boxing in all the pipework, cleaned out the lower gutters, staked the tomatoes, planted beans and staked them too.  I have a good bit going on in the garden now.  Peas, Beans, Carrots, Beetroot, Onions, Garlic, new Thyme plants, Strawberries, Raspberries.  The Plum tree is looking good, a lot of fruit buds.  But the apple trees are a big disappointment.  I think I have two blossoms from five trees.  Next year!  Hopefully they will come back next year.

Lots of Elderberry blossoms on the way.  I think I may have a go at making elderberry wine if there are enough.  If not, maybe some elderberry cordial.  I believe you can make a champagne from elder blossom.  Must try that sometime.

There are two young rabbits wandering round the garden.  They are living in the field next door, and have not found the vegetable patch yet.  If they do, their lives may be in danger.

Should have the last of the Leland Cypresses cleared out of the garden this week.  Next door lost most of his in the big storm in April.  I had already been culling mine out of the garden for the last two years, so little to clear.  But the last and biggest decided to go out with a bang and landed on the roof of the stable next door.  Luckily the Insurance company is covering that one.  I am so glad to see them go.  They were killing the orchard and garden here, letting no sun through.  They are trees that do not belong in Ireland and should need a licence to be planted.  They grow about 3 foot per year in this climate.  In the 1970’s they were touted as a great solution for instant screening and wind shade.  Tip for you gardeners – if it grows fast, it grows out of control fast.  Buy slow growing plants and be patient.

Now that the beans are planted I could have gone for “the musical fruit” as a poem, but it’s a bit obvious.  And this one is better…

The Bean Eaters; by Gwendolyn Brooks

They eat beans mostly, this old yellow pair.
Dinner is a casual affair.
Plain chipware on a plain and creaking wood,
Tin flatware.

Two who are Mostly Good.
Two who have lived their day,
But keep on putting on their clothes
And putting things away.

And remembering . . .
Remembering, with twinklings and twinges,
As they lean over the beans in their rented back room that
is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths,
tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes.

What did America ever do for us?

Cranberries?  We should celebrate cranberries?  I think not.  And what is a blueberry only a commercialised bilberry.  We had them already in Ireland.

Then there is Maize, the runt of the grain family.  Maize was responsible for widespread pellagra due to niacin defficiency.  How did native americans ever figure out that soaking the grain in lye released niacin?  So Italians rave about polenta, big deal. You won’t find it in Ireland.

I will say that fresh maize is pretty good, no barbeque is complete without sweet corn on the cob.  And then I guess there is popcorn, which goes perfectly with that other American invention, the cinema.

The potato, that came from America.  And here in Ireland it was responsible for the death of a million and the emigration of 2 million Irish as a result of the potato famine.  OK, Irish cuisine basically doesn’t exist without the humble spud.  Boil them, crush them, mash them, cream them, roast them, sauté, fried, deep fried, dauphin, au gratin, croquette, duchesse, baked, deep fried skins, stuffed, layered, potato cake, potato bread, garfield, rosti, I could go on.

Then America gave us the turkey, which basically means that Americans invented Christmas.  We don’t do thanksgiving, but Christmas just isn’t Christmas without turkey, and cranberry sauce. OK, so there is a use for cranberries, once a year.

Tomatoes.  They come from America.  What would we have without them?  No ketchup, no puree, no passata, so there go half of all the pasta sauces.  And Pizza is not Pizza absent the tomato.  Provencale sauce, practically every other salad, burgers without tomato and ketchup?  Hot dogs?  OK, so we need tomatoes.

Then there is Chili, that came from america too.  Chili, not Chile, which is in America.  This insidious spice has effectively invaded every cuisine from Portugal to China.  Somehow it bypassed Ireland until the 1970’s, and there are still chili free areas in the deep rural areas of the country.

Chocolate, oh yeah, that’s American.  Chocolate bars, chocolate cakes, boxes of chocolate, chocolate pudding, hot chocolate, death by chocolate, mmmmmm.

So there are really some pretty cool things that we got from America.  Oh, and another is the handgun.  Invented in America by Elisha Collier in 1814 and developed by Samuel Colt in 1836 and onwards.  Today I read how a kid on a schoolbus in Florida produced a pistol and shot a 13 year old girl, Lourdes Guzman.  That is one thing from America that I don’t want in Ireland.  Handguns and kids don’t mix!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Don%27t_Like_Mondays

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2I84-A9duY