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Recipes from Italy – 370 traditional dishes

Drawing from the taverns that slow food it hosts every year, composes a repertoire of 370 recipes that covers not only all regions of the boot, but also all dishes, from starters to desserts and single dishes. The order is not by region but follows alphabetical order within chapters arranged according to staff sequences. The index by region and by season is rather collected at the end of the book allowing more criteria of choice in the consultation of the cookbook. The indisputable variety of the Italian gastronomic tradition makes the same ingredients present an enormous range as wide as the difference in culinary approach between Friuli and Puglia may be, to stay only on the Adriatic side. That of biodiversity and the immense food variety is the mirror of a country with a complex history, marked by heterogeneous influences, commercial exchanges, dominations first inflicted and then suffered. As many contaminations as the same etymology of many products and recipes takes us as much to the rest of Europe (France and Spain in particular) as to the Middle East. Thus, the great traditional classics find a place in this publication as well as more niche and less inflated preparations. Vegetarian dishes are also marked with a special symbol…

Dear friends of slow food, this time we are not there yet. Just open any random page from Recipes from Italy at least one error occurs. Because the defect lies in the handle, the errors concern the substance: the terminology which does not respect the technical jargon of the kitchen and the insufficiency of the procedural indications. It is true that the recipes were provided by the various taverns in Italy, but it would seem that they were not written directly by their respective chefs. Because otherwise the confusion – unfortunately still widespread among the layman – between frying, frying and browning, for example, would not be explained. If we’re preparing to make a ragù, we can’t write (and can’t read) “brown” the onion. To brown comes from the Lombard word “rosa” (crust) which means to cook over high heat until a crust forms. In any professional kitchen, if you make such a mistake, they make you throw it all away and start over. Rather, frying (contrary to what the common people think “Ah… the stir-fry is heavy”, idiocy) is to maintain the humidity of the vegetables thanks to low heat so that they crumble or “melt” ; so much so that stir-frying requires the addition of water and, as we know, “you can’t fry with water”. Ergo, under frying = keeping below frying temperature. While I’m at it, I’ll also give some advice to readers: to achieve the goal, put cold stir-fry on (low) heat, add salt immediately, and cover with water if necessary. It is inadmissible to read (in the Carpione recipe, for example): “Cut the courgettes into sticks then brown them in plenty of hot oil: they must remain crunchy” (???). leave the perforated ladle to the janitor, ed), drain and pat dry on paper towel,” it’s obvious even to a child that we fried these zucchini, not fried. Unacceptable. Still to stay with the ABC, let’s take the arancini recipe: it indicates to “brown” the onion (it will therefore be crusified) then to “add the meat and turn up the heat until the meat is well golden”. Well, when the meat is browned, the onion will be charred. While I’m at it, I’ll give readers another piece of advice: when you want to brown (“seal” in technical jargon, by the “Maillard reaction”) the meat, do it only with the meat over very high heat. Onions and/or other vegetables, add them to the sealed meat, then lower the heat to low, salt and cover. From here you can start stew, meat sauce or other long cooking. Let’s continue randomly: I find myself repeating for the umpteenth time that the Artichokes alla Giudìa are not beaten raw to open them in bloom and then fry them. FRY 2 TIMES in natural frying, once for the whole body, then extract, open to bloom and fry a second time upright with the stem out of the oil. And again with regard to the artichokes and the oil, we read that the Roman ones must be placed in a covered pan for one third of oil (including the stem? A liter of oil?), for one third of water (and we are two thirds of the liquid) and cook covered over low heat. There is definitely too much oil and the water will not evaporate: we will find a product in flakes floating in the fat… I continue at random: what about the “aromatic herbs” generically defined placed outside and not inside the “porchetta” in the beer…it’s a “pig”, not a porchetta. And we don’t know why a few pages ago, rosemary was defined as a “spice”. To confuse vegetables, aromatic herbs and spices is rude: spices are foreign and for this reason, historically, they come in dried form. Fresh rosemary is grown on site and is an aromatic herb. Turmeric is a spice, rosemary is not. Garlic is a vegetable. We then wonder why, without giving any particular “tricks” (and then it would make sense) we insert the recipe for the onion omelet, always wrong: “Fry the onions until they become transparent”. Correct version? : “Dry the onions by putting them in cold oil over very low heat, covering them and possibly helping yourself with a little liquid”: so that they become transparent, without browning them… That was fine so good with the guide Slow Wine 2022 and with Taverns of Italy 2022 but this time we are not really there. We then read in the preface that traditional recipes have been “abandoned in our time”: adding eggs to pasta “flour and water (…) to make them crispier” is like making pasta with eggs. Indicate. Say goodbye to the tradition of water and semolina pasta made in the South, nothing else. (By the way: “durum wheat flour” does not exist, it is called “semolina”, flour is by definition soft wheat). And speaking of pasta, to say that some versions of “amatriciana” include onion is another oversight: “amatriciana” is made only one way. The one with the variables that is made in Rome is called “Matriciana” and by distinction of nomenclature, a bay leaf, vinegar, bacon, garlic, onion are allowed to enter the second . don’t call it “Amatriciana” but “Matriciana” or, even better, “Matricianella”. And on this the diatribe has been concluded for years in good peace between Rome and Amatrice. From a convinced gliofilo (garlic depends on how it is handled) I still see it as a sometimes wrong, sometimes excessive use. See the recipe Raw meat: for 5 ounces of meat, 6 more raw garlic cloves. This doesn’t seem like a big update to me… I understand that for some time now what I’m about to propose may seem like a weird idea: what if we had the cooks write the cookbooks?

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