Pasta alla Norma
Added by True&False | Tue 14 Jul 2009 @ 11:22
A way and not away, with the Aubergine! That\'s the question.
Here\'s some history on one of our favourite family dishes, believe it or not, even my kids eat it and it has aubergines in it!
The eggplant was imported in Europe from East-Asia thanks to the Turks via Spain; initially used as an ornamental plant whose fruits were viewed with suspicion; Melanzana, the Italian for Eggplant, derives from “Mela Insana”, or “noxious apple.” (Presumably those living in the south began eating it sooner because it grows better there than the north, or perhaps because hunger drove them to try it.)
The English were responsible for coining the name \"Eggplant\" in regards to a variety with egg shaped, white fruit that they became familiar with, yet strangely, they refer to them today by the French name of Aubergine, which is a corruption of the Catalonian name \"Alberginia\".
Having the Aubergine put a foothold in the South of Italy (Napoli), it is of no surprise that the first famous dish with aubergines, tomato and mozzarella “Melanzane Parmigiana” now loved by many Italians, North or South was made in the South. The dish had pasta added to it to make it a more substantial meal and so we have many different pasta dishes with Melanzane in it. It has now become a prominent dish in Southern Italian cuisine.
As it goes with most “foreign” plants and fruits imported to Europe, the Aubergine was been looked upon as suspicious or dangerous and was never accepted straight away by the population, until HUNGER took over! We now have it fried; pickled, stuffed, minced, grilled and dried….we just can’t get enough of it!
Following the addition of pasta to the melanzane parmigiana, this dish became now famous thanks to a famous composer that was an enthusiastic eater of it - The Sicilian composer Vincenzo Salvatore Carmelo Francesco Bellini (November 3, 1801 – September 23, 1835). Born in Catania, Sicily.
The dish is named after one of Bellini\'s most famous operas NORMA: (he even has a tree, various gardens and a cocktail named after this Opera or his surname)
Act I. The grove. A secret love unites the seeress Norma with Pollione, the Roman proconsul, by whom she has borne two children. But Pollione has grown tired of the aging druidess and has fallen in love with Adalgisa, a young temple virgin. Despite Adalgisa\'s piety and virtue, she agrees to flee to Rome with Pollione. Adalgisa innocently tells Norma of her love, and Norma curses Pollione for his treachery.
Act II. Norma’s apartment. She is about to kill her children, but through maternal pity finally confides them to the care of Adalgisa. When Pollione comes to take Adalgisa from the temple, Norma denounces him and he is seized by the Druids, after having refused to give up Adalgisa. Norma proclaims herself equally guilty with him. The funeral pyre is lighted, and ascending it, Norma dies with her lover.
This dish is now known all over Italy as PASTA ALLA NORMA. And of course in Catania (Sicily) it\'s a must have!