Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

JoNorvelleWalker

Origin of Zuppa Inglese

Recommended Posts

Over the years I've heard theories of the origin of zuppa inglese.  My own guess has always been zuppa inglese is an Italian adaptation of a trifle.  Perhaps because I was exposed to English triffle, complete with Bird's Custard, before I'd heard of zuppa inglese.

 

Over the last couple days I've been reading Lidia Bastianich's Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine.  Lidia attributes zuppa inglese to an effort to recreate an English trifle served "at the Elizabethan court in the late nineteenth century."

 

Now, as I understand by the late nineteenth century Elizabeth I had tragically passed on, while Elizabeth II was hardly a glimmer in a royal eye.  Does Lidia mean "Victorian"?  Or is her date off?

 

Anyone hold a competing theory for the origin of zuppa inglese?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's no clear story about its origin, only legends. It appears in various cookbooks from the XIX century, each one giving a different story for its origin. Searching for the origins of such old dishes is almost pointless in my opinion. Few people documented what they were doing, even at the noble courts. It's relatively easy to find papers with the lists of the foods that were bought by those noble courts, but finding menus is not common, finding recipes is rare. So how can we be sure that the ancient reference we know of is really the first one? It's just impossible, existing documents are way too few.

We need to consider other problems too. Calling something "English" could mean many different things: it could be inspired by an English dish; it could have been served at a banquet where the guest of honor was English; it could be just a way to try to elevate it, with a fake story behind ("here's the English soup, a famous dessert from England that was transmitted blablablabla", just to cover it was a way to re-use stale genoise). The most accepted story for the origin of praliné (almonds mixed with caramel) tells that it was an error made by one of the apprentices of the cook of Marshal du Plessis-Praslin, who accidentally threw to the kitchen floor some almonds and some caramel, the cook didn't want to waste them, collected them and served them to his employer. If this is true, I doubt he served them saying "we are in the weeds, these fell to the ground, taste good, so here you are"... more probably "this is the new delicacy we invented", followed by a huge made-up fable. Plus there is the word of mouth effect: person A tells person B a story, person B tells this story to person C, C to D, when we arrive to L we have a totally different story. So much that there are dishes that are called "Russian" in a country and "Italian" in another.

Looking at what happened with tiramisu is peculiar. We spent some decades thinking it was a delicacy with a really old story behind, while it was created in the 1960's. Not in the XIX century, in the 1960's, and we took decades to demonstrate it and accept it.

 

 

 

Teo

 

  • Like 2

Teo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...