Finanziera

On a roll!  Four covers in a row! On to Finanziera, an historic Piemontese dish.

The second part of my two part article on Chef Memo Field Melendez of Profumo di Vino in Treiso appeared on the cover of today’s Highlife section of the Vail Daily.  After I submitted the article, I ran across an interesting history of finanziera – there are many!  I didn’t want to burn up my word budget on it in the article since this dish deserves an article of its own, so I didn’t delve into it.  But it’s so interesting I had to post it:

“Yet the poverty and inventive genius of peasant have also given rise to one of Piemonte’s most aristocratic modern-day dishes: finanziera.

Photo of FInanziera from the cookbook of restaurant Il Centro di Priocca.
Photo of FInanziera from the cookbook of restaurant Il Centro di Priocca.
Photo of Finanziera (specifically the cock's comb) from the book "Piemonte: A Vai Dei Saponi."
Photo of Finanziera (specifically the cock’s comb) from the book “Piemonte: A Via Dei Sapori.”

Sandro Doglio reckons the recipe was created to use of the bits when cocks were castrated to become capons.  Capons were of course raised and fattened for the lord of the manor or to sell at the market. But to the crests and the barbels of the poor birds and the organs cut off to reduce their masculinity – all parts of no commercial value – peasant women learnt to add a few drops of sour wine to make a tasty steve, which they thickened with a pinch of flour.  Some sources claim that this stew – the so-called finanziera – was a sort of tribute paid by peasants going to Turin market to sell their poultry.  To have a free passage into the city, they bribed the customs guards, or finanzieri, with giblets (livers, hearts, gizzards, testicles, crests and barbels).  And with these bits and pieces, the wives of the customs officers would prepare one of the region’s greatest dishes, an example of imagination, genius and astuteness combined.” 

– from “The Rhythms of the Langhe,” Mario Busso, Carlo Vischi, page 35

Perhaps the fact that finanziera is listed under “Regalie” (meaning, gifts) in some of the cookbooks I’ve seen gives credence to this conjecture about the origins of this innards stew.

This is one of my favorite books about the region.  Full of wonderful folk lore, great recipes, history and stunning photos of the region.  It can be obtained in the States.  I bought a second copy recently on Amazon.com after losing track of my copy that I repeatedly leant to friends and oenophiles.   Still wish it would find its way home along with my copy of the “Atlas of the Langhe.”

Two other wonderful Piemontese cookbooks (in Italian) where you’ll find finanziera recipes are:

Piemonte: La Via Dei Saponi by Mario Busso and Carlo Vischi
Piemonte: La Via Dei Sapori by Mario Busso and Carlo Vischi

and

Cookbook of "Il Centro di Priocca" restaurant
Cookbook of “Il Centro di Priocca” restaurant
Attributions for "Il Centro di Priocca"
Attributions for “Il Centro di Priocca”

Obviously, Mario Busso gets around quite a bit!  All three of these books are a must if you are a true blue Piemonte-phile!

If you haven’t had a chance to read the two articles about Chef Memo and his wonderful restaurant in Treiso – where you can usually find finanziera in winter – here are the links.  Feel free to “recommend” them!

Part 1 – Planting Mexican Culinary Roots in Italy

Part 2 – No Longer a Stranger in a Strange Land

Ci vediamo, tutti!

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3 thoughts on “Finanziera”

  1. Can’t imagine having the courage to try Finanziera, but Chef sounds like such an artist, I’d probably try it based solely on trusting his brilliance.

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