Saturday, August 20, 2011

Itallian rapscallion

Yesterday was my (ostensible; I'm actually going in tomorrow) last day of work, and as a thank-you to our rather fabulous PI, my med student co-worker and I assembled a package that included florentines. These delicate caramel-and-almond wafers are, as the name suggest, of Florentine origin, which is why, after many weeks, I bring to you:

Komm, süßer Tod, Part VI: Giuliano de Medici
(florentines, sans the oft-used chocolate and candied citrus peel accoutrements*)

You'd think having a brother nifty enough to get the nickname "the Magnificent" would send Giuliano de Medici into a tailspin of mediocrity. But no, he had to go and co-rule Florence in the late fifteenth century with said brother. Unfortunately, members of the Pazzi and Salviati families butted heads with the Medici rulers of Florence over that most Italian Renaissance of issues: capitalism.

The Pazzi, a banking family had helped the very anti-Medici Pope Sixtus IV purchase some land that Lorenzo and Giuliano had their eye on, thus gaining the financial favors of the pope. Francesco Salviati, having helped with this whole pull-the-wool-dyeing-business-over-Medici-eyes scheme, also got himself named archbishop of Pisa for his efforts. To make a long and complicated story short and oversimplified, after suffering Lorenzo's disapproval one too many times, the Pazzi and Salviati decided to engineer what may be one of the ballsiest assassinations in all of history: have the Medici brothers stabbed to death in front of thousands of people during High Mass at the Duomo, the great cathedral of Florence.

Poor Giuliano bled out on the floor of the church while everyone watched (or fled in fear, more likely), but Lorenzo escaped and actually went on to attempt to defuse the situation, trying to save the lives of Pazzi and Salviati family members and allies. Unfortunately, Salviati was hanged to death at the Palazzo Vecchio, Pazzi family members were murdered by an angry mob, and Pazzi and Salviati family members were in general assaulted and defaced whether or not they had anything to do with the conspiracy... and, as you may have been able to guess, "or not" was the norm. As a last resort, Lorenzo turned himself over to the Neopolitan king Don Ferrante, prostrating himself in captivity for a few months until the king was convinced to help him calm Sixtus down. Lorenzo went on to die quietly in 1492, conveniently avoiding the climax of the whole Savonarola blowup that started during his reign. And even though Giuliano lost his life, his bastard son went on to become a pope. Ah, Italy!

Now, to move to the Iberian peninsula:

This is what happens when you make a sauce of nutmeg, black pepper, and the most delicious cheese ever to be wrapped in sycamore leaves, queso azul de Valdeon...

...add liberal amounts of fresh red grapes, sliced roasted garlic, and flat-leaf parsley...

...and toss a pound of pasta with the whole shebang, then top it with crunchy walnuts and a few more sprigs of parsley for good measure.

This is delicious and delightfully simple. If you can get ahold of the aforementioned cheese, or any other particularly earthy and pungent blue, make this.

*Recipe adapted from Good Housekeeping: Baking and One Perfect Bite. I actually made two batches of this because the first refused to peel off the parchment paper, no matter what I tried. The next batch I baked on lightly greased cookie sheets, which worked like a charm. And those first cookies? Andy ate them, paper and all. The results were surprisingly indigestion-free.

No comments:

Post a Comment