Once upon a time (well, around 1950), there was a noblewoman in Venice who was forbidden by her physician to eat cooked meat. She fled to her favourite eatery and asked the owner, one Giuseppe Cipriani, for help. He took out his freshest beef tenderloin and sliced wafer-thin pieces, then improvised a lemon mayonnaise dressing. The creamy white of the sauce against the vibrant reds of the meat reminded him of the paintings of Vittorio Carpaccio. A dish was born. 'Now everyone does carpaccio,' says Paolo Monti of Gaia Ristorante in Central. 'But I remember the confusion when it 'trickled down' from fine dining [in the early 80s]. Customers would ask for carpaccio and get gazpacho. 'It's easy to make carpaccio at home. You can buy pre-sliced Japanese beef [for shabu-shabu]. If you wanted to buy a whole piece of meat [usually a portion of tenderloin or sirloin] and slice it yourself, find the sharpest, thinnest non-serrated knife and practice. Partially freezing the meat will make the outer edges firmer and easier to slice. If your cuts aren't as thin as you'd like, place them in between plastic wrap and hit them gently with the flat side of a meat mallet. 'Fish carpaccio is also very popular now. The latest trend is bluefin tuna carpaccio. When you are buying fish, look for iridescence in the meat. If there's some sort of glaze on it, it's probably not fresh. Yellowtail is also a good fish for eating raw, carpaccio style. Just make sure your dressing is not so strong that it kills the flavour of the fish. Also, acidity from lemon juice or vinegar will start to cook the protein, so always dress the dish at the very last minute before serving.'