Wolfgang's on Brock
Family Restaurant. Great Breakfast. Bavarian Lunch & Dinner
The History of Schnitzel
Schnitzel is defined as a thin slice of meat covered in egg, flour and bread crumbs and pan fried (never deep fried) until fully cooked, golden brown and crispy.
Mention of Schnitzel in cook books is, as cook books go, a rather “recent” affair. Only in 1719 Conrad Hagger decribes a chicken covered in bread crumbs and fried in hot Butterschmalz (Butterschmalz = bacon grease. Butterschmalz mixture was used for frying as oil was not yet a staple in central European cooking). Historians assume that this style of preparing meat was so common that no one thought of mentioning it in cook books in those days.
However, the beginning of using breadcrumbs goes certainly back further to the time when people started using up leftovers. Left over bread was used in many different ways and also for making bread crumbs which in turn were used in many different recipes.
Gold is also thought to have been used as one of the main ingredients in the early Schnitzel. In 15 and 16 century AD Lombardy (a region of Italy) people who could afford it, covered various foods in gold leaves. (To this day gold is used in cooking mostly at wedding parties in India and other south-eastern counties.) This was done for dietary reasons, as the consumption of gold was prescribed as heart-healthy by the medics, as well as flaunting one's wealth and standings. Through merchants, this practice was spread from Venice throughout central Europe. Gold, however, was rather expensive and many different foods were cover with it so that in 1514 the council of Venice outlawed the practice. Cooks of the day were looking for a usable substitute and found bread crumbs was the best way to fry foods to a “golden” appearance.
3100 Brock Street North, Whitby, Ontario
Copyright Wolfgang"s on Brock. All rights reserved