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Old 12-14-2010, 04:26 PM   #1
TimeTraveller
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Default Rossini in the Kitchen

I'm a classical music lover, and for a few days I've been sidetracked reading and translating Hector Berlioz's French magazine articles about William Tell by Italian composer Giacchino Rossini. Composed in 1829, this was Rossini's last opera, after which he retired first to Bologna and later to Paris. He became a renowned gourmet and bon vivant, and several dishes were named after him, such as Tournedos Rossini.

ROSSINI IN THE KITCHEN.
The International Magazine of Literature Art, and Science, New York, Volume 2, Issue 3; February 1, 1851
Quote:
The last accounts of Rossini, if we are to credit the pleasant stories told of him by the Parisian wit, Louis Huart, are highly characteristic of the great maestro. The following canard is one of the most veritable and amusing: —

"The newspapers announce that Rossini has shut himself up at Bologna with the celebrated tenor Donzelli, and that they pass their days in rehearsing a new opera, of which Rossini is finishing the score. After the sea-serpent, I know of no story which returns more periodically than the announcement of a new opera by Rossini. It is now fifteen years since this pleasantry began to be invariably reproduced at the commencement of every winter, and always with the same success. One begins to meet in society a few Parisians who shrug their shoulders with an air of incredulity when you speak to them of the sea-serpent, but no one dares to evince the least skepticism touching the new opera of Rossini. We received this morning a letter from our correspondent at Bologna, and he furnishes us with details which explain the announcements in the newspapers.

"Rossini is living in rather a retired way just now; and only receives the regular visits of one person; there is an error, however, in the orthography of the appellation of this visitor. Instead of Donzelli, he is named Pastafrollo. He is no tenor he is a cook! Rossini, in company with Pastafrollo, is now busily occupied in endeavoring to discover a new way of dressing turbot. Rossini has invented, up to the present day, sixty-two different ways of dressing this fish, but he repeats to whoever will listen to him, that he will not die content until he has discovered a sixty-third method, which will satisfy him completely — then he will divulge his secret, and have inscribed on the cartes of all the restaurants in Europe — turbot à la Rossini. On that day, but that day only, Rossini will make up his mind to open his piano and compose a cantata in honor of fish in general, and turbot in particular. The passion of Rossini for cooking has been rendered more ardent from the fact that the family of this illustrious personage do all they can to cross him in it. The relatives and friends of Rossini wish to make him believe that it is unworthy of a musician, and more especially of a musician of his genius, to occupy himself with turbot; but Rossini replies, history in hand, that a whole senate once devoted a long sitting to find out what sauce would eat best with this fish. Rossini's family do not consider themselves beaten as yet, and they have organized a sort of cordon sanitaire round the house of the composer, to prevent the cooks from getting to him. Before this determination was arrived at, Bologna overflowed with chefs, who arrived from every part of Italy, to consult Rossini on the best methods to be employed in dressing salmon, skate, carp, eels, and gudgeons.

"This furnishes us with an explanation of the reason why Pastafrollo was forced to employ a stratagem in order to prevent his being stopped in the hall by the family of Rossini. Pastafrollo arrived at Bologna, under the name of Donzelli, and took care to have inscribed on his passport tenor instead of cook.

"We cannot conclude without giving expression to an earnest hope, that the conferences established between Rossini and Pastafrollo may give birth to the sixty-third mode of dressing turbot."
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Old 12-14-2010, 09:00 PM   #2
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I like Rossini's music, too.

IIRC, he was also composing Sins of Old Age at this time: A whole bunch of little pieces -- mostly piano solo, and many very delightful.

Here's recipe for Tournedos Rossini:

http://recipes.epicurean.com/recipe/...s-rossini.html

Looks pretty fucken edible to me. . .

- Jim
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Old 12-15-2010, 06:19 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smithnwesson View Post
I like Rossini's music, too.

IIRC, he was also composing Sins of Old Age at this time: A whole bunch of little pieces -- mostly piano solo, and many very delightful.

Here's recipe for Tournedos Rossini:

http://recipes.epicurean.com/recipe/...s-rossini.html

Looks pretty fucken edible to me. . .

- Jim
Yes Tournedos Rossini is great. Supposedly it was named because composer's butler had to "tourner le dos" (French for "turn his back") to hide the secret final touches of this recipe created by Parisian chef Marie-Antoine Carême under Rossini's supervision. Carême claimed, "Rossini is the only one who truly understands me."

That recipe is here too, along with Maccheroni Rossini and Salad Rossini.
Gioacchino Rossini Gourmet
http://www.gioacchinorossinigourmet....no-rossini-en/

I like this quote on NPR (the recipe for Tournedos Rossini turns up here too):
Composers In The Kitchen: Gioacchino Rossini's Haute Cuisine
http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptiveca...-haute-cuisine
Quote:
I know of no more admirable occupation than eating, that is really eating. Appetite is for the stomach what love is for the heart. The stomach is the conductor, who rules the grand orchestra of our passions, and rouses it to action. The bassoon or the piccolo, grumbling its discontent or shrilling its longing, personify the empty stomach for me. The stomach, replete, on the other hand, is the triangle of enjoyment or the kettledrum of joy. As for love, I regard her as the prima donna par excellence, the goddess who sings cavatinas to the brain, intoxicates the ear, and delights the heart. Eating, loving, singing and digesting are, in truth, the four acts of the comic opera known as life, and they pass like the bubbles of a bottle of champagne. Whoever lets them break without having enjoyed them is a complete fool.
Beethoven met the young Rossini and was impressed with his early comic opera The Barber of Seville but otherwise didn't think too highly of him. Beethoven later wrote:
Quote:
The Bohemians are born musicians. The Italians ought to take them as models. What have they to show for their famous conservatories? Behold! their idol, Rossini! If Dame Fortune had not given him a pretty talent and amiable melodies by the bushel, what he learned at school would have brought him nothing but potatoes for his big belly.
Some of the piano pieces in Rossini's late collection Sins of Old Age [Péchés de vieillesse] concern food:
Four Appetizers: Radishes, Anchovies, Gherkins, Butter
Four Beggars (a Provençal Cake): Dried Figs, Almonds, Grapes, Hazelnuts

Ottorino Respighi later collected and orchestrated several piano pieces from Sins of Old Age as the ballet La Boutique Fantasque [The Fantastic Toyshop], which in my mind's eye I envision danced by gorgeous fat ballerinas.

By the way, some of the music in Rossini's collection anticipate Erik Satie, who also wrote music with whimsical titles, such as Trois Morceaux en forme de poire [Three Pieces in the Shape of a Pear], which I also envision danced by gorgeous fat ballerinas (naturally in the shape of a pear).

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