From its origins to the present day. History of the evolution of an Italian PGI product
Over the centuries, balsamic vinegar has had a use both as a gastronomic assistant and as a healthy "balsam" used in various circumstances.
Its oldest ancestor is "sapum", cooked grape must, which the ancient Romans used both as a medicine and as a sweetener and condiment.
In the eleventh century, the chronicles of Abbot Donizone report that the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry III, on the occasion of his passage in northern Italy was honored by the Marquis of Tuscany, Bonifacio, with "perfect vinegar" (balsamic vinegar , editor's note).
From the end of the thirteenth century, the art of vinegar production began to be cultivated at the court of the Dukes of Este in Modena.
Already in 1508, on the occasion of the birth of her first child, the one who will go down in history as Ercole II, Lucrezia Borgia, wife of Alfonso I d’Este, had experienced its use as a very special cure-all at the moment of childbirth.
In the terrible plague, of Manzoni's memory, of 1630 vinegar, in general, and balsamic vinegar in particular, had the honors of the news for its immediate use as a "protector from contagion".
In those tragic months they were terribly tragic and hard for the city of Modena.
In the rage of the contagion, the official medicine of those years showed its inability to put even the slightest remedy to the spread of mortality.
Closed in their homes, the Modenese defended themselves from contagion with ancient medicines coming from tradition.
Thus, mindful of the ancient Hippocratic rules, they placed the remaining hopes of escaping the plague in the family vinegar.
This use then extended to all domestic practices.
In 1747, for the first time, the adjective "balsamic" next to the word vinegar appears in the cellar registers of the Este court.
Even the Hapsburg and diaphanous Francesco IV, who became Duke of Modena and Reggio in 1814, knew the importance of such a viaticum and on the frequent occasions of his departure from Modena he always had the box with the precious bottles of balsamic vinegar accompany him.
A kind of superstitious superstition that, in addition to the direct beneficial effects on his poor health, perhaps gave him the perception, in those years of political instability, of a continuous and indissoluble link with his small duchy.
At this point we take a leap forward in time, to be exact in 1933, to find the first ministerial authorization to produce Modena balsamic vinegar.
While in 1965 the specification relating to the "Composition characteristics and methods of preparation of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena" was published in the Official Gazette.
Disciplinary that will be modified in 1994 thanks to the intervention of the producers who also acted to protect the correct commercial use of the name Aceto Balsamico di Modena.
Finally, the recognition of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena as a PGI product (Protected Geographical Indication) dates back to 2009.
BALSAMIC VINEGAR IN CUISINE
Surely, the real place for balsamic vinegar is the kitchen.
Its use is extensive and varied but it must not be indiscriminate.
It should be used sparingly and prudently in order to enrich the tastes and enhance them.
A golden rule of a well-known expert such as Rolando Simonini to obtain a more effective use is the following:
"The balsamic vinegar is also used to season other vinegars." Thus states a recipe of the nineteenth century, a telegraphic recipe, but not as sibylline as it seems. Since balsamic is an essence, it should rarely be used whole, most of the time it is combined with other good common vinegar to find the right bouquet for its use. Then a recommendation that I hope is superfluous: when dressing salads it is mandatory to first add the salt, then the vinegar, stirring everything for a long time and only then add the oil to finish mixing (the oil in fact waterproofs the vegetables).
Knowing how to use balsamic vinegar properly can reserve many pleasant and exciting surprises for your way of cooking and seasoning food.
For example: who could have ever imagined being able to season strawberries with balsamic vinegar?
Yet the union of tastes is among the most successful, so much so that it has already become the heritage of some renowned restaurants and is exhibited with the spirit of a final catwalk, apotheosis and conclusion of a refined lunch or dinner.
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