JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Thursday, March 20, 2008

An Easter feast, Sicily 1942

I am reading David Gilmour's excellent biography of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, the last of one of the great Sicilian families, who wrote The Leopard, one of the great masterpieces of 20th century literature, the favourite novel of so many.

Here's an astonishing extract, describing the way these noblemen ate during the war:

In addition to the conversation and the walks in the countryside, one of the main pleasures of Capo d'Orlando was the food. On Easter Sunday 1942 Giuseppe described to Licy a typical dinner of lasagne, vol-au-vent with lobster, cutlets in breadcrumbs with potatoes, peas and ham, 'an admirable tart from a recipe of Escoffier' (puff pastry, cream and candied cherries) - and 'all in their usual quantities!' The manner to which the Piccolos were able to insulate themselves from the horrors of the Second World War is remarkable. Throughout the summer of 1942, while massive armies confronted each other in Russia and Africa, there was no shortage of food at Capo d'Orlando: on 9 June Giuseppe reported 'tender and tasty beefsteaks two inches thick', exquisite cakes, a slice of tuna fish 'literally as large as a car tyre'. On another day Giovanna announced that they were having a light and mainly cold lunch as it was summer, and afterward Giuseppe listed for Licy's benefit the contents of this 'light' meal: 'real fettuccine' with butter and parmesan cheese, an enormous fish with various sauces, a pate de lapin made 'according to the rules of the old game pates: liver puree, black truffles, pistachios and consomme jelly: a very successful product of Giovanna's art'; and finally merignues with real chocolate ice cream.


aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Wow... if that's a light lunch, I'd hate to see a big dinner! Actually, I don't think I'd mind that much - it sounds absolutely wonderful, if a little indulgent..

Jeanne said...

Oh wow - now you have my tummy growling and my mouth watering... I can imagine a lunch like this at a long table under trees, surrounded by family and friends. Sigh. Now if only I can find me a Sicilian nobleman...!