The Fascinating Origins of Piccata, Marsala, and Parmigiana

Ever wondered where your favorite Italian dishes come from? At Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ, we serve mouthwatering chicken parmigiana, veal marsala, and chicken piccata, but the origins of these popular dishes may surprise you. Join us on a culinary journey as we uncover the intriguing stories behind piccata, marsala, and parmigiana!

Piccata: A Slice of History

Piccata is known as delicate slices of chicken or veal sautéed in a buttery pan with lemon juice, white wine, and capers. While we assumed it was a dish created for the Italian nobility during the Renaissance, our research uncovered a different story.

Contrary to popular belief, piccata did not originate in Italy. The dish can be traced back to the United States in the 1930s, created by Italian immigrants. It was initially prepared with veal, which was more affordable at the time.

Although the exact inventor remains unknown, the addition of lemon, white wine, capers, shallots, and garlic to the sautéed meat made it a classic Italian American dish. So, while the history of piccata may be cloudy, one thing is crystal clear—the delectable taste is worth savoring!


Marsala: A Taste of History

Chicken and veal marsala, with its rich and savory flavors, captivates our taste buds. But where does it come from? Marsala, the town on Sicily’s western tip, played a significant role in the dish’s history.

Marsala wine, the key ingredient in all marsala recipes, was originally a regional drink produced in Sicily. Its fame spread when a fortunate incident led a merchant to taste the local wine and introduce it to England. The fortified wine gained popularity and was even celebrated as the “wine of victory.”

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While a sauce using Marsala wine can be traced back to the influence of French chefs brought to Sicily by Queen Maria Carolina of Naples and Sicily, it never gained popularity in Italy. Instead, it became a beloved Italian American dish served across the United States.


Parmigiana: A Classic Italian Dish

Chicken or veal parmigiana is often our first introduction to Italian cuisine. This dish typically consists of breaded and fried chicken or veal, topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and Italian seasonings. But how did it become an Italian staple?

Interestingly, the dish didn’t originate with chicken or veal. In the Old World, proteins like chicken and veal were not readily available to the masses, so a parmigiana was made with breaded and fried slices of eggplant—a dish known as melanzane alla Parmigiana.

The exact reason for the name “parmigiana” remains a mystery. While it might be tempting to assume it refers to the city of Parma, where Parmesan cheese is produced, food historians contend that the dish was not consumed that far north in Italy. Its popularity lies in the southern regions of Campania and Sicily.

When Italian immigrants arrived in America, they discovered that meats like chicken and veal were more affordable and accessible. As a result, they adapted their traditional dishes, and veal parmigiana became popular in Italian American communities. Over time, chicken parmigiana also gained prominence.



Q: Can I make these dishes at home?

Absolutely! With the right ingredients and techniques, you can recreate these classic Italian dishes in your own kitchen. Check out our website Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ for flavorful recipes and helpful cooking tips.

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Q: Are there any vegetarian versions of these dishes?

Yes! For those who prefer vegetarian options, you can substitute chicken or veal with eggplant in parmigiana, creating a delicious melanzane alla Parmigiana. You can also explore vegetarian piccata recipes using plant-based proteins like tofu or seitan.


Piccata, marsala, and parmigiana have become beloved culinary treasures with fascinating histories. While their origins may have started in different places, these dishes have found a place of honor in both Italian American cuisine and our hearts. At Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ, we strive to deliver the same authentic flavors and joyful dining experiences that have made these dishes timeless classics. So, gather around the table, mangiare, and enjoy the taste of Italy!