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Grana Padano
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Something that happened earlier that I’ll explain at the end:



Hong Kong, during a demonstration for the promotion of Italian cuisine; a plumpish Chinese lady is passing in front of a stand where a chef is doing that which he has specifically come to do; cook for the public. Nimbly, as only Chinese housewives know how, she takes a little white stick from a tray and puts it in her mouth in perfect Fantozzi (Italian cult film) style. After a couple of seconds, she looks at the chef with astonishment and disappears.

Pizzoccheri are fresh pasta typical of the Valtellina (Alpine Lombardy). They are made of buckwheat and are served with ribs, boiled potatoes, a lot of Casera cheese and flooded with melted butter.

A mountain dish, ancient, a bomb of calories but delicious.

Recently on the Web, I chanced upon a recipe of a starred chef:

Spherical Golden Pizzocchero; it describes a dish which is not very difficult; a ball covered with gold dust.

The other day on a television programme another chef proposed tuna Tartar on a disk of panettone.

That’s right, panettone!

On the Web, you can always view a famous two-starred Italian chef in video who explains in the tone of a bow-legged poet how he has spherifed eggplant Parmigiana, almost as if he had finally discovered the secret of cold fusion.

Clearly, I don’t doubt the professionalism of the chef in question at all; it’s just the dishes that I don’t understand.

As far as tuna with panettone is concerned, it’s not necessary to enlarge upon it much; the mistake is clearly visible even to those who don’t understand cooking. It’s common knowledge that pandoro (Veronese Christmas season cake) is used with raw tuna...

Other than the recent mania of spherifying everything, even peas, the other two dishes seem insipid to me. This observation of mine is obviously based exclusively on the approach of the chef to the dish and not on the result of his never having tried them.

Please understand, I’m not against evolution or revisiting traditional dishes. I’m against useless plates, plates that are fine in their own right and that serve to feed the chef’s ego more that to satisfy the guest’s appetite.

I wouldn’t want to exaggerate now, we are speaking here of some, let’s say, slightly hazardous dishes, nothing dramatic.

But there we have it: we shouldn’t dramatise cuisine. Some of the greatest chefs have done some bad dishes and yet they remain great chefs.

Sometimes when in a great restaurant, it can happen that we don’t like the dish; if we think that we haven’t understood the dish, our attitude is mistaken.

Italian cuisine is probably the most popular in the world, because it is a cuisine that doesn’t have to be understood. Our dishes speak a language that is universal and immediately understandable even before trying the dish.

A ball covered with gold dust full of pizzoccheri looks like the brass knobs of my grandmother’s bed and feasibly on Mars they might be more appetising than the original dish.

Little coco butter balls which look like little chocolates and taste of eggplant Parmigiana could at best be a culinary happening but will never have a future, and let me tell you why:

If we had had an interpreter for our Chinese housewife, we would have been able to explain the why of those strange little balls and maybe she would have been amused by trying them instead of disappearing. But if the original dish had been in the place of the little balls, the lady would have accepted a portion, she would have taken a seat and she might have even finished it with a good glass of wine. Without the need of an interpreter, she would have spoken about our cuisine and even Chinese housewives would have understood the Neapolitan dialect of eggplant Parmigiana.




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