words by Elizabeth Ganley-Roper
A new controversial book, Ricette Proibite: Rane, Asini, Rondinotti, Gatti e Tartarughe nella Tradizione Alimentare by Tebaldo Lorini, came out in bookstores earlier this month. As the title indicates, the book traces the use of taboo animals such as frogs, donkeys, swallows, cats and turtles in the Italian gastronomic tradition.
While animal rights activists oppose the use of such animals for food, others take a historical approach and defend such gastronomic choices by illustrating howthese creatures have been eaten throughout time. The author Lorini takes a similar approach, stating: “Who said certain animals can be eaten and others not? Such laws vary from country to country, just like other uses and customs, history and traditions. Taste changes with time and today certain recipes are a classic for aSunday lunch whereas others can’t even be mentioned”.
The book offers readers a description of 50 dishes, accompanied by colour illustrations by Marta Manettiand tips on how to prepare the different types of meat. Dishes range from roast stork, grilled fox thighs and stewed badger to hedgehog in tomato sauce, donkey stewed in red wine and swan à l'orange. Loriniadmits that such dishes may be offensive to some, stating that they are “unthinkable, politically incorrect and most likely, for some, disgusting”.
A scholar of folklore and gastronomic traditions, the author traces eating habits from antiquity until the present, demonstrating that today the dishes we wouldn’t think of presenting to our guests were once commonplace.
Ricette Proibite: Rane, Asini, Rondinotti, Gatti e Tartarughe nella Tradizione Alimentare