Life and History
Gioacchino Rossini was born into a family of musicians. His father was a horn player and his mother was an opera singer. Gioacchino inherited his parents’ talent at a young age. He moved with them to Bologna where he too began working as a musician: he had already proven himself as a talented composer and showed little interest in becoming either a musician or singer. He enrolled in a musical conservatory and attended classes taught by father Mattei. It was here that he wrote his first opera, called Demetrio e Polibio. After four years, he finished school and dedicated himself completely to music.
In 1813, after having composed his first successful opera, Tandcredi, he was asked to write a couple more for Barbaia, a local theater impresario. Rossini composed a long series for Barbaia, including Il barbiere di Siviglia (“The Barber of Seville”), La gazza ladra ("The Thieving Magpie"), and Semiramide (“Semiramis”).
In 1823, he moved to Paris where he became the director of the Italian theater and Inspector General to the King. In Paris, he wrote his masterpiece, “William Tell,” which was performed in 1829. Rossini moved back to Italy and lived there for about twenty years. He eventually returned to his home in Paris for the last years of his life.
King of the 19th century musical scene, Rossini was also a famous food lover. Not only did he come from a region where food was the center of life, but he went to school in Bologna, also known as La Grassa, or “The Fat One,” and then moved to Paris. His life revolved around the most famous food cities in Europe. His modest upbringing caused him to really appreciate the pleasures of fine food. He particularly loved truffles and foie gras. Recipes are still being attributed to him today, and he inspired many others during the course of his career.
Ingredients (serves 6)
- beef fillet
- ⅜ oz butter
- 1 slice fois gras fresh
- 2 slices black truffle
- 1 slice sliced bread
- 1 tablespoon Madera wine
25 minutes preparation + 10 minutes cookingTie up the fillet slices with string so that they retain their round shape while cooking: Brown in butter until medium-rare, then remove the string.
Fry in oil and butter the slices of bread; arrange a tournedos on each bread slice, put the foie gras slice on top and garnish with the truffle shavings previously sautéed in butter.
Pour the Madera wine into the meat cooking juices and reduce; drizzle this reduction over the tournedos when ready to serve.
P. CECCHINI, In cucina con Rossini: ricette, lettere, aneddoti, motti, frizzi e bisticci del Cigno Pesarese, Ancona, Tecnoprint, 1992c;
F. RIDOLFI, A tavola con Rossini, Pesaro, 1992. Pubbl. in occasione del secondo centenario rossiniano 1792-1992;
T. BEAUVERT, Musica per il palato: a tavola con Rossini, Milano, A. Mondadori, 1997;
A. PAVONE, Personalità a tavola: l'evoluzione gastronomica e le ricette dei grandi personaggi della storia, Valentano, Scipioni, 1998.