Writing about the history of particular dishes is not my preferred way of doing food history.  I’d rather concentrate on whole cuisines.

Even so, some dishes cry out for study.  One is breaded (or egg and breaded) thin slices of meat.  This preparation appeared around the globe from Latin America to Japan to India to the Middle East in the nineteenth century (the late nineteenth century, I suspect). It was variously called a cutlet, a milanesa, a schnitzel, or that Texas specialty, chicken fried steak. It probably did not appear earlier because it requires fresh meat and crumbs of white bread, neither of them widely available to the middle class, let alone the rest of the population, before that time. Here’s a brief discussion of chicken fried steak and its Mexican counterpart, the milanesa, prompted by  my friend and writer for the Dallas Morning News, Kim Pierce.

I’m not sure that I agree with the commentator that the origin is Central European.   Nor do I know when the milanesa made it to Mexico.  It could have been brought by German or Italian immigrants in the late nineteenth century.  Or even by the French come to that, though the choice of the word milanesa does suggest some Italian connection.


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