Parmigiana: history, origin and the perfect recipe
When you say Parmigiana, you mean a huge world: fried or baked aubergine? Fior di Latte or Bufala? Egg in the sauce or is it a sacrilege? Parmigiana is a fundamental dish of the culinary Italian tradition, a must that every foodie should know how to prepare to perfection! We want to tell you its history, besides some suggestions and a special recipe… signed by Chef Canavacciuolo!
The origin of Parmigiana
The origins of this dish are uncertain. What is well known is that the aubergine, together with the custom to cook it in oil, came in Italy and more precisely in Sicily around XV century thanks to the Arabian, during the period of Arabian denomination. Probably, even the use to season aubergines with pecorino, derives from the Arabian custom to season the vegetables in layers, as showed by the Greek and Turkish Moussaka.
It seems, thus, that the place of birth of Italian Parmigiana is Sicily, even if also Campania, claim the paternity of this dish. We can conclude saying that Parmigiana, meant as layers of fried aubergines covered with pecorino cheese, was born in Sicily. Later, thanks to the contamination of Campania, it has been enriched with tomato sauce and mozzarella.
Parmigiana, where does the name come from?
No certainty and many hypothesis on the origin of the name! The most accredited is the version supported by Accademia della Crusca. According to it, the name derives from the Sicilian term “parmeciana”, used in the past to mean the shutters made of wood strips, overlapped and tied together.
Parmigiana was born as layers of fried slices of aubergine covered with pecorino cheese. Now this version has been enriched with tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano that during the years has substituted Pecorino cheese. The first written proof of this recipe is dated back to 1778, when Vincenzo Corrado wrote in Naples “Il cuoco galante” where he talked about a similar dish with fried zucchini, seasoned and baked. It is possible to find a recipe of a Parmigiana, similar to our today’s Parmigiana, in the work of Ippolito Cavalcanti of 1839, “Cusina casarinola con la lengua napolitana”.
Let’s have a look now to the recipe. Each Sicilian family has its own one, someone seasons the tomato sauce with onion, some others with garlic. Someone adds egg to thicken the different layers, some others consider it as a terrible mistake. We want to present a tasty and “certified” recipe: Parmigiana recipe of Chef Cannavacciuolo, from his book “In cucina commando io”.
Parmigiana: the recipe of Chef Cannavacciuolo
Chef Antonino Cannavacciuolo revealed us some secrets: aubergines without the peel have to be coated in breadcrumbs with egg and Buffalo Mozzarella, better than Fior di Latte.
For the sauce
Grind thinly half an onion and brown in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, add 500 gr of fresh tomato sauce, with basil, add salt and pepper as you like and cook for 20 minutes.
For the aubergines
Peel and cut in thin slices two violet aubergines, around 4 mm. Round it in the flour and egg, drain and dive in hot peanut seeds oil. Drain, dry and salt when they are still warm.
Alternate the slices of aubergines with spoons of tomato sauce, Buffalo Mozzarella (drain from the extra water in advance), and sprinkle of grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Enrich with basil leaves and bake at 200° for 40’.