Pardon my Alemán. I've never studied that language. But I got enthusiastic yesterday when I spotted Milanesa Holstein on the menu at Sanborn's Restaurant at Plaza Las Américas in Morelia. It's true that I was first drawn to the Sandwich Caliente de Pavo con gravy; but having had a very disappointing earlier experience with that at Sanborn's Centro Histórico Morelia, my eyes leapt to the Milanesa Holstein. There is also a Milanesa Italiana or perhaps Parmesana, which the colorful photo menu explains as in a tomato sauce with gratineed cheese. It looks like "Chicken Parmesan", with the chicken standing in for veal.
I'd better explain what Schnitzel (or Milanesa) Holstein(er) is. A thin slice or meat, originally veal, but could be pork or chicken, is pounded out thin and breaded then fried. For the Holstein variation, the fried schnitzel is topped with a fried huevo estrellado. (See my previous work on How To Order Eggs Without Fear, here.) The fried egg is garnished with a couple of anchovy fillets and a few capers. The latter two are among my favorite condiment foods. Put a small order of Papas Fritas, and you've a rare treat when you are surrounded by enchiladas and comida típica Mexicana.
Where did the milanesa originate and how did it come to Mexico? For illumination, I turned to www.wikipedia.org and the article on the Wiener Schnitzel and variations.
Here is some relevant historical context:
The dish may have originated in Milan, northern Italy, as cotoletta alla milanese, and may have appeared in Vienna during the 15th or 16th century. According to another theory, it was introduced in 1857 by Field Marshal Radetzky, who spent much of his life in Milan. The term Wiener Schnitzel itself dates to at least 1862.The article is a bit thin on Mexico and its adopting of the Milanesa:
I theorize that with the French invasion and occupation of Mexico in 1862 to 1867, and the placing of Emperor Maximilian of Austria on the throne, Central European dishes were introduced to Mexico, including the schnitzel-milanesa, and, I'll throw in pasta hojaldre (puff pastry for strudels and other flakey treats of pan dulce.)
Thinly sliced beef breaded and fried is also known as "milanesa" and is a popular ingredient in "torta" sandwiches sold in street stands and indoor restaurants in Mexico City.
Earlier, Hapsburg Austria dominated northern Italy, and Lombardy, where Milan is located, and this food may have migrated northward to Austria. From there, it traveled to Mexico, where it is ubiquitous, and most prominently used in tortas. (Mexican "sub" sandwiches) Those milanesas are often of poor quality; tough and badly fried. For a really good Milanesa de Pollo, served plated as a lunch or dinner, I recommend those served at the restaurant of the Gran Hotel in Pátzcuaro. Now I can also recommend those at Sanborn's Plaza Las Américas location in Morelia.
So, what's the Holstein connection? Holstein is a county, part of Jutland, in Northern Germany. How does that explain a fried egg with anchovies and capers?
MyGermanFoods.org has this explanation; believe it or not as you wish:
Holsteiner Schnitzel (Holsteiner Schnitzel, Schnitzel nach Holsteiner Art)
Holsteiner Schnitzel, a veal fillet (pork can be used instead) breaded and browned in butter and topped with a fried egg and an anchovy was the favorite meal of the great 19th-century Prussian diplomat Friedrich von Holstein – who liked to eat in a hurry – so he had his appetizer and main course all on one plate.
This concludes my light-hearted investigation of the schnitzel-milanesa in Mexico. May your next Milanesa be a great one.