Monday, December 8, 2008

first course


Antipasto denotes the dishes served before (anti) the pasta (pasto) course. These are often similar to those served for gustatio. Antipasto is also more broadly defined as 'before the meal,' referring to all food served as appetizers. Alan Davidson's Oxford Companion to Food states: "Typical itmes are olives, pieces of raw or cured ham, marinated mushrooms or other vegetables, and items of seafood. As the popularity of Italian food increased in the second half of the 20th century this term acquired wide currency in English" (p.22)
" an Italian term for 'hors d'oeuvres'...English actually took the word over in the sixteenth century, and partially naturalized it to ante past ( The first mess [course], or antepast as they call it, is some fine meat to urge them to have an appetite,' quoted in the Harleian Miscellany, 1590)."
---An A to Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 7)

whatever that s mean Appetizers,are Orphan dishes in our dinner table and they look always so sad, we love this little cute dishes but we never give then a enough attention they were more like our warming part of our dinning experience we eat them even we try each others sometimes get couple of different types and share but definitely there is no enough respect with all these process.
Why, because their are small or they are inexpensive or they are not complex enough
All this answers are correct we love them a lot because these palatable little dishes our first bites. But we will forget them quickly when the main courses have arrived and they will be fading away under the shadow of glorious entrees.

Appetizers can be traced back to antique GREECE, where the upper class were served eggs, fruits, etc. as part of a three- course meal. Here I will try to give a brief summary of the History of appetizers and our eating habits in last 2500 years.
In antique Greek, ceremony of eating always start with grapes and assorted fruits and some sort of crudités salad wasn’t a choice of appetizers, but size of our antique appetizers were way bigger then today’s standards
Like many other things in our eating habits and our appetizers changed too first they were limited as a fruit or crudités than getting more complex , even we changed the order of courses during mediaeval ages. During late 13th century appetizers mostly served after main course. According to De honesta voluptate et valetudine (1475) by Bartolomeo Platina - the first cookbook printed in a native language (which is Italian)
The two courses dinner for an ordinary household suggested in this book as you can see second course is comparable our modern appetizers

Broiled leg of lamb with cauliflower Pigeon pâté
Stewed eels Roasted green peas
A roast pig assorted pastries

Of course concept of cook book and organized recipe mentality has been change during last 700 years, giving a recipe to reader was an easy task back then terms and techniques looks really funny for today’s reader. Like A Whole Boar On A Bed Of Parsley Marinated with salt and pepper cook for about 8 hours.
Modern cooking techniques are began with Sarah Phillips and her poetic instruction such as “rip open the belly” hack it with knife” or” smite them in pieces”.
Anyway let’s back to our main subject Appetizers

in the 19th century The debate on popular, bourgeois, and aristocratic cooking influence the structure of the meal, modifying it profoundly. Many dishes were moved to a subsequent course, while others were assigned a new role...Among the many issues related to form, the question of the antipasto was the most important. With its profusion of different foods, it was the only part of the meal that reflected the courses offered on the tables of the aristocracy.
Late 19th century early 20th Century, appetizers consisted mostly of soups, oysters on the half-shell, or canapés, served mainly at a table.

Today many restaurant especially ethnic ones provide much richer appetizer menu and most of us start skipping entrees and stick with appetizaer.Also more avand- garde way some up scale restaurants serving Amuse-Boucher (direct translating from French Mouth Amuser)If you are a very educated food enthusiast or very into the culinary world this word already part of culinary vocab, but Most of us familiar with this term from Top Chefs. however first time I heard this term in TV sitcom friends; conversation between Monica an Chandler

Chandler: What is this
Monica : It’s Amuse-Boucher
Chandler: It’s amuse-ing
Or something like that, but what is really an amuse-boucher, simplest definition of this term is , pre-appetizer served in bite sized in order to agitate our precious taste buds mostly served in spoon.
They are small and they are well presented

We call them sometimes appetizers sometime antipasto or may be Tapas, sometime, meze or mezze .long story short finally they are significant part of or eating routine.

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