Pas Yisrael Parve: Ciabatta Loaf (FORWARD's Philologus, 10-4-02)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Sun Oct 13 06:19:36 UTC 2002

    "Philologus" writes a really wonderful column every week for the FORWARD 
(formerly, the JEWISH DAILY FORWARD).  David Shulman told me that this week's 
column discussed "panini" and "ciabatta."  Read the whole thing 
( for the "Pas Yisrael 
Parve" part, but here's the "ciabatta" part 
> ON THE SUBJECT OF SLIPPERS (you'll see the connection in a minute), a friend 
> has sent me a label taken from a loaf of bread bought in a New York City 
> grocery and baked by Fairway Bakery. It says, above the list of ingredients 
> and the price: "Pas Yisrael Parve: Ciabatta Loaf."
> (...)
> And now for the slippers. "Slipper" is the base meaning of the Italian word 
> ciabatta, the current fad bread in New York that is widely used for panini, 
> the machine-pressed sandwiches that are currently in vogue too. The 
> ciabatta is called that because of its shape, which is long, low and 
> flattened in the middle, just like a beat-up old house shoe. 
> This homey word may lead you to think that, like cappelletti, the "little 
> hats" of pasta filled with meat that are a traditional Italian dish, or 
> vermicelli, the angel-hair pasta that literally means "little worms," the 
> ciabatta is an age-old Italian bread, one of the dozens of regional loaves 
> that are baked by Italians to this day. Prepare yourself for a surprise. 
> The ciabatta is about as traditional as the Pas Yisrael label. It was 
> invented in 1982, in the northern Italian town of Adria, by a retired 
> racing car driver named Arnaldo Cavallari, who came from a family of flour 
> millers. Mr. Cavallari — the secret of whose success was a moist dough that 
> contrasts with the drier dough of standard Italian bread, or of the French 
> baguette, and that as a result lasts much longer in the pantry —named his 
> product ciabatta precisely because he wished to give it the patina of 
> tradition and succeeded so well that today it represents for many people 
> the epitome of the Italian kitchen. 
> It is amusing to find "Pas Yisrael" and "ciabatta" together in this way. 
> For one thing, it is an illustration of the amazing fusion of cultures that 
> goes on all the time in America: Here is the ultra-Orthodox community, the 
> most isolationist of all Jewish groups, adopting and "Judaizing" a 
> fashionable Italian bread a few scant years after its appearance. And for 
> another thing, it is a witness to our craving, in an age in which things 
> our constantly changing, for the signs of tradition. Both the "Pas Yisrael" 
> label and the word "ciabatta" suggest something that is old and backed by 
> the religious and culinary authority of the past. It's just an illusion.

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