One of the best facets of our lives at Brian Beal Moore Catering is that the opportunity to learn new things is infinite. The entire world eats, and every culture, subculture, and sub-subculture has its own culinary idiosyncrasies.
As humankind migrated it took its food culture with it. However, where they settled may have had a different climate, topography, vegetation, and animal species which necessitated adaptation to the traditional recipes.
We all agree that Neopolitan Pizza is the original, but does that make Chicago Deep Dish Pizza any less of a Pizza? It was brought to Chicago by Italian immigrants and it was adapted to the place, time, and ingredients. I can see why in often bitter cold Chicago a rich and dense pizza make sense - and not so much in Naples where it is often quite hot and calling for lighter fare.They are the same, but different, as are cultures and human beings in general.
Last night I attended a dinner and lecture/interview that highlighted the current Swiss Ambassador to the United States and his recent publication More than Muselix and Fondue: The Swiss Contributions to Culinary History. The Ambassador was engaging and the topic was fascinating.
Delmonico’s the venerable restaurant in lower Manhattan, the first fine dining establishment (1837) in the United States, continue’s to thrive today. Its Chef de Cuisine, Charles Ranhofer, created such classic dishes as Eggs Benedict, Lobster Newburg, and Baked Alaska.
César Ritz was of humble Swiss birth and partnered early with Georges Auguste Escoffier, together created the impeccable standards for the traveling leisure class’s accommodations and dining, first in Monte Carlo, and later in London.
The Waldorf Salad made its debut on March 14, 1896, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Oscar Tschirky, was the Waldorf's maître d'hôtel and of Swiss birth. Today, Waldorf-Astoria hotels honor him with “Oscar’s” being their signature restaurant.
To me, the most memorable part of the evening was the revelation that François Vatel, the celebrated visionary who crafted spectacular fetes to honor Louis the XIV. There is a fantastic film, Vatel, from 2000 that interprets his life that is well worth seeing for culinary, historic, and entertaining reasons.
Even more intriguing, the Ambassador went on to explain the importance of food in diplomacy. Food not only brings together people on a human level but in a more relaxed environment than in official meetings with translators and stenographers.
During the Q & A, the Ambassador was asked as to what he would have served the last two presidential candidates. He explained for the Democratic nominee he knew to serve interpretations of Maria Kübler who published Switzerland’s first cookbook in 1850. The Republican nominee would be more difficult, he hesitated and said he just wasn’t certain on what to serve him.