Gioacchino Rossini was an Italian composer in the first half of the 19th century (a contemporary of Beethoven and Schubert) who, unlike other composers, did not remain in anonymity until death or suffer from unstable economic situations. He was, however, rather eccentric, as we all can be in reality. One of his best-known pieces, Duetto buffo di due gatti, demonstrates his extravagance, for as the name implies, it calls for two sopranos to play the role of two cats, meowing in bel canto style.
“Eating, loving, singing and digesting are, in truth, the four acts of that comic opera known as life and they pass like the bubbles from a bottle of champagne”
Rossini’s love for cuisine
As an in-demand composer, Rossini would be one of the few with time and space to explore his hobbies, in this case, cooking. He allowed his imagination free rein to create dishes that have left their own culinary mark.
Rossini was a bon vivant with the firm conviction that there was no need to be ashamed of experiencing the things that gave us pleasure. The musician’s love for food was well documented and to such a degree that one of the few times in his life he burst into tears was when he lost a truffled turkey. According to some historians, the dish rolled down a hillside at a picnic, while others claim it fell off a boat during a tour.
“Appetite is the baton that conducts the great orchestra of our passions.”
Eggs a la Rossini
You’ve probably heard of eggs a la Rossini. And if not, you’re in luck. Keep reading for a recipe from the composer himself. Prepare a béchamel sauce. Boil half a head of brains, cook two chicken livers, grate some Flanders cheese, and soak bread crumbs in milk. Layer the soaked bread crumbs, bechamel, and the grated cheese. Crack the eggs on top, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place the chopped brains and livers between them. Cover with a lid and cook.
And what about the recipe for Rossini style chicken?
Clean and debone a chicken, separating the legs, thighs, and breast. Put the fileted breast in a bag with garlic, thyme, grated orange peel, and a little olive oil. Close the bag trying to eliminate as much air as possible and set it on a baking sheet in a preheated oven at 60°C/ 140°F for one hour.
For the sauce, cook the legs and thighs (skin side down) in a pot over low heat with celery, onion, carrot, aromatic herbs (thyme and fresh oregano), garlic, salt, and olive oil. Once the meat and vegetables are browned, add white wine and let it cook. Before it evaporates completely, add hot water and leave it on a low flame for a couple of hours. Strain the remaining result to obtain the sauce.
Back to the breasts, put them in a saucepan with a little oil, aromatic herbs, and butter. Add more grated orange peel with a squeeze of lemon juice. Once the breasts are cooked, set them aside to rest. In the same pan briefly fry some rabbit livers with a little more oil and butter. Add a pinch of salt and a little balsamic vinegar. Serve with the sauce as a base, layering the breasts, the livers, and white and black truffle pearls.
Unfortunately, there is no evidence of any dessert invented by the composer, although some claim that due to experiments he made in his kitchen, what we know today as cheesecake is thanks to him. Do you dare try either of Rossini’s recipes?