Food: The name game

Simon Hopkinson has a beef about `carpaccio of zucchini' and other absurdities

"Carpaccio is the most popular dish served at Harry's Bar. It is named for Vittore Carpaccio, the Venetian Renaissance painter known for his use of brilliant reds and whites. My father invented this dish in 1950, the year of the great Carpaccio exhibition in Venice. The dish was inspired by the Contessa Amalia Nani Mocenigo, a frequent customer at Harry's Bar, whose doctor had placed her on a diet forbidding cooked meat."

This is Arrigo Cipriani talking about Carpaccio in The Harry's Bar Cookbook (Smith Cryphon Limited, 1991). I would guess that about 97 per cent of you keen and dedicated cooks have, until now, never been aware of the true origins of Carpaccio, it having become a spurious and ubiquitous misnomer, raging rampant all over this gastronomic planet.

"Carpaccio," Signor Cipriani goes on to say, "which has been copied by any number of good restaurants all over the world, is made by covering a plate with the thinnest possible slices of raw beef and garnishing it with shaved cheese or an olive oil dressing. The genius of my father's invention is his light, cream-coloured sauce that is drizzled over the meat in a cross-hatch pattern [as shown above]."

I rather approve of this patient explanation as to how Arrigo Cipriani's father's dish of Carpaccio has been plagiarised and misinterpreted, without resorting to reprimand. After all, Signor Cipriani has every right so to do. But that is not the way of people who usually know when something is right. I see no reason, though, why I cannot become a little agitated.

In this same vein, it continues to upset me that it is the current fashion for the flagrant usage of just any old culinary nomenclature on menus - whether they be French, Italian, Japanese or even English - to describe a dish. And, furthermore, it is the question of due respect for an original that makes my blood boil. I have even seen a recipe for "Carpaccio" of zucchini - which really takes the cantucci.

Did you know, for example, that the description "Cappuccino" refers to the shades of the habits worn by the Italian order of Capuchin friars, which were coloured brown and cream? It does not simply mean frothy, man. We also now regularly see "veloutes" of this, that and the other. Larousse says: "This name is used more than anything else for a white sauce made with white veal or chicken stock, used as a base for a number of other sauces ..." It can also refer to rich cream soups. And when you start to read some of the recipes that come under this classic heading, it becomes clear how much the traditional kitchens of old relied on this useful liaison. But with reference to my moans, it is dismal to note how very far away present interpretations are from being anything close to a true veloute.

Osso Buco, the slice of veal shin that is dear to the hearts of Italian cooks - and particularly the Milanese - literally means "bone with a hole". When did monkfish ever have a hole through its central cartilage? Yet "Osso Buco of Monkfish" is the bee's knees just now in the smartest of joints and jolly dinner-party jamborees.

And then there is the plague that is "jus". I predict, however, that this particular epithet will become even more infectious once Marco "I am an important figure in London Society" Pierre White has stamped his special jargon (jus is his particular bon mot) on to Granada's top menus, up and down the country. Perhaps, one day soon, we will be enjoying a "Traditional English Breakfast, jus HP," when making a transitory visit to Leigh Delamere services on the M4. (In case you had ever wondered, Newport Pagnell was the country's first motorway service station. I bought my very first Thor, Fab Four and Spiderman comics there in 1962.)

My friend Sue, on a recent visit to Los Angeles, overheard a conversation between a glamorous girl and her "very favourite waiter" in a fashionable restaurant on Melrose: "Gerald, my dear [or it could easily have been Shane or Colt], do you think I could have a little more `au jus' with my tranche de gigot?" Now, you may accuse me of being snobbish and cruel, taking to task someone's ignorance, simply on hearsay, but if the restaurant had simply printed the word gravy - a term Americans have used for donkey's years, then this silly gaffe would not have been so relished.

In his inimitable way, Francis Coulson of Sharrow Bay Hotel on the shores of Lake Ullswater in the northern English Lakes, describes his roast pork thus: "Traditional Roast Loin of Cumberland Pork, honey-glazed and cooked with Rosemary, served with Apple sauce, Sage and Onion Stuffing, Crackling, and Gravy made with the Goodness of the Pork." One day, perhaps, all menus will be written this way.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
health
News
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
News
The spider makes its break for freedom
VIDEO
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
books
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Associate Sales Consultant

    £16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Associate Sales Consultant i...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established and expanding ...

    Recruitment Genius: Water Jetting / HGV Driver - Industrial Services

    £14000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Skilled Labouring staff with id...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Executive - OTE £30,000

    £16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Salary: £16k - £20k Dependant o...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot