Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Carpaccio on French Menus.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan Newman

The Carpaccio on your menu did not begin with a French chef; the Carpaccio’s creator was an Italian, Giuseppe Cipriani  (1900–1980). Giuseppe Cipriani   was the owner of Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy and in the 1950's  he created a dish called Carpaccio di Manzo; that’s Italian for Beef Carpaccio.  The dish was named in honor of the famous Venetian renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio (c. 1460 - 1525/1526).
The original Carpaccio.
Here seen served in a Cipriani family owned restaurant.
Photograph courtesy of Franz Conde.
The dish Giuseppe Cipriani  created uses thinly sliced,  practically paper thin, marinated beef; the thin slices of  the beef cover the  plate and on the beef is drizzled a white sauce made from fresh mayonnaise, Worcester sauce and lemon juice. 
Today’s world of Carpaccios still include the original thinly sliced beef,  but to the original recipe has been added other meats, fish, shellfish and vegetables.

A BigEye Tuna Carpaccio.
Photograph courtesy of rick.
All Carpaccios have at least one thing in common; they are all uncooked, though the meat and fish Carpaccios are marinated.  French chefs with their constant search for fresh, clear tastes accepted the original Carpaccio as though it was theirs.  French diners have accepted the many versions of Carpaccio as a much-loved French dish, and many do not realize that the dish’s provenance is indisputably Italian.

Carpaccio de Lotte au Citron Vert.
A monkfish Carpaccio marinated in lime juice.
Photograph courtesy of  Marion Deveaud
French menus will offer you a wide variety of Carpaccios:
Carpaccio  de Boeuf,  Mariné au Citron et à l'Huile d'Olive.  A beef Carpaccio marinated  with lemon and olive oil.  A beef Carpaccio may be marinated and then served with a different sauce. Some marinades work better than others do, and diners have personal preferences.          
Often beef Carpaccios are served with slivers of Parmesan cheese, and Parmesan is usually an excellent addition, it creates more sensations for the tongue.  The slivers of Parmesan should be an addition, and not a covering; otherwise all you will taste is Parmesan cheese. This happened to me and so I removed at least 70% of the excellent Parmesan cheese to a separate plate.  Then while waiting for the main course I requested some olive oil and ate the Parmesan cheese with olive oil and the restaurant's excellent bread rolls. That was two excellent entrées for the price of one!

A beef Carpaccio with a salad mesclun and parmesan cheese.
Photograph courtesy of mastermaq
 Carpaccio de Bœuf à l’Huile de Truffe Blanche – A beef Carpaccio prepared with oil flavored by the white truffle.  Truffle oil is made by allowing the truffles to steep in olive oil so the oil absorbs much of the truffle’s flavor.  With truffle flavored olive oil, you may flavor dishes for much less than the cost of fresh truffle scrapings.  A hint of the truffle flavor will there, though the texture may be missed; the compromise should be beneficial to your pocket.

White truffle oil.
Photograph courtesy of  Kathie Hodge.
The truffe blanche  also called the truffe blanchâtre when fresh may  itself be on French menus from January through April; it is pleasant truffle, but certainly should not be confused  with the much more flavorsome, and much more expensive, and famous white Italian truffle, the Truffe d'Alba. The Truffe d'Alba is the most expensive truffle in the world!  In France, the tastiest truffle is the black Périgourdine truffle.  For more about truffle oil see the link at the end of this post.

Salmon Carpaccio.
Photograph courtesy of Augusta Madrid .
Carpaccio de Bar, Vinaigrette aux Fruits de la Passion – A Carpaccio made from European sea bass, the fish.  Here the fish  is marinated in vinaigrette sauce flavored with passion fruit; it will be served together with the marinade.   For more about the European Sea Bass see the link at the end of this post.
Carpaccio de Tomate aux Fines Herbes et Échalotes, Feuille de Cœur de Sucrine, Betterave et Sorbet Cabécou - This is an intriguing vegetarian take on a Carpaccio.  The Carpaccio us thinly sliced tomatoes, flavored with the French herb group called Fine Herbs, and shallots.  Then this dish moves on and becomes a whole new creation as it is served with leaves from the heart of a baby Romaine lettuce, beet-root, and a Cabécou goat cheese sorbet.

This is a very interesting and attractive sounding dish, on my next trip to France I should like to try it,.  This dish will be perfect for many, and not only vegetarians; however, the links to the original Carpaccio are tenuous. For more on the herb group Les Fine Herbes see the link at the end of this post

A beetroot Carpaccio.
Photograph courtesy of mightymightymatze
Vittore Carpaccio came from a family of famous painters;  he had a famous painter for a father, and another famous painter for a brother.   Sadly, none of Carpaccio’s descendants, if they could be found, receives any royalties for that popular dish called named after their ancestor. However, Carpaccios on menus honor the artist who might otherwise may have remained unknown to many. 

An orange Carpaccio for dessert.
Photograph courtesy of Katherine Lynch.
Carpaccio’s  real name was Scarpazzaa, and so he changed it to Carpaccio; I think that if I had been born with a name like Scarpazzaa I might also have changed my name to Carpaccio.  If Vittore had not changed his name we might find Scarpazzaa de Bœuf on the menu, and I am not sure that it would have had the success of Carpaccio.

Vittore Carpaccio’s Flight from Egypt.
The original of this painting is in the National gallery of Art,
Washington D.C.
Photograph by  courtesy of Sharon Mellorus.
From Flickr with a Creative Commons Licence.
The use of red and white colors in the painting above repeated  in nearly all of Carpaccio’s works; the red and white colors are also the colors of the original Beef Carpaccio.

 If you want to see a Carpaccio on the wall instead of on your plate, there are many in museums around the world, from the Louvre in Paris to the J. Paul Getty Museum, in Los Angeles, and, of course, a number did remain in Venice.
Giuseppe Cipriani the founder of Harry’s Bar, Venice, Italy, and with his family and descendants the owner of a few other famous restaurants around the world,  was  also  the creator of the fresh white peach and sparkling white wine cocktail called a Bellini.  For the Bellini Giuseppe Cipriani took the name of another famous Venetian Renaissance painter Giovanni Bellini (1430 – 1516).
Connected Posts:

Bryan G.Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2014

For information on the book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman