By Rosario Scarpato
One of the most successful editions of the International Day of Italian Cuisines, IDIC, has just come to an end. Its success has been possible only thanks to the hundreds of chefs who cooked with enthusiasm and pride Spaghetti al dente with tomato sauce last January 17. A huge thanks to all of them. It has been beautiful to see chefs from everywhere joining IDIC, starting from Umberto Bombana, the only 3 Michelin Star outside Italy (Bombana 8 e ½ Hong Kong and Opera Bombana Beijing). It has been as well as exciting to listen to the French chef Alain Ducasse talking about Italian Spaghetti on that day.
THE MIGHTYEST WEAPON
Social networks and media all around the world have extensively talked about IDIC 2014 and Spaghetti with tomato sauce. We have sought it, since the mission of IDIC is to educate consumers about authentic Italian cuisine and the role of media is fundamental to achieve this goal.
The fact is that if Italy is a gastronomic superpower, then Spaghetti with tomato sauce is the most powerful weapon of conquest, despite the passage of time. There is a long ideal spaghetti with tomato sauce that links the Italian migrants arriving to Ellis Island (New York City) or São Paulo (Brazil) and the Italian chefs working all around the world today.
THE TRUTH ABOUT SPAGHETTI
The IDIC 2014 has left us a banal, though sublime and impertinent truth: Spaghetti with tomato sauce, arguably the simplest dish of Italian cuisine, are still very exciting. The simplicity of the Italian culinary tradition is more alive than ever. It’s neither sameness nor uniformity. With the same ingredients and basically the same method, each chef creates a different masterpiece. That’s the miracle of Italian cuisine. The IDIC 2014 has demolished the theory of some critics for which only with exotic ingredients and copy-cating molecular cuisine a chef can create excitement, novelties and changes in Italian cuisine. Nothing could be further from the truth. In New York, on January 17, three talented chefs under 35, Enrico Bartolini (2 Michelin stared, from Milan), Matteo Bergamini (SD26, New York) and Luca Signoretti (Roberto’s, Dubai) cooked with the same ingredients, the same recipe of Spaghetti with tomato sauce and the outcome was a hymn to diversity. In Pompeii (Naples), chef Paolo Gramaglia of President Restaurant, put his creativity and technique at the service of Spaghetti and tomato sauce. Once again with the same recipe he used three different types of tomatoes (San Marzano, Vesuvius Piennolo and a mix of the two) and created three different tasteful works of art. Consumers of Italian cuisine all around the world crave for this kind of creativity.
THE SEXIEST DISH
The Spaghetti with tomato sauce of the last IDIC has revealed other truths as well: They reiterated to the world that it´s still the sexiest dish in Italian cuisine. It’s not the plebeian sensuality of unrestrained abundance, as shown in the movie Poverty and Nobility (Miseria e nobiltà), played by Totò, the famous Italian comedian. It’s no loger that one. Presentations of the dish have evolved. On the last IDIC, chefs have passionately competed in presenting in the plate in a contemporary style, lushly yet simple. The tempting nest of spaghetti dressed only with an irresistible tomato sauce. Today’s spaghetti with tomato sauce has something of both the Italian beauty and sensuality of Sofia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Isabella Rossellini or Maria Grazia Cucinotta. Not by chance a famous Italian writer, Giuseppe Prezzolini, used to say that for the spreading of Italian culture Spaghetti are more important than the famous writer Dante Alighieri, the father of Italian language.
ITALIAN CULINARY PRIDE
From Ulan Bator to Moscow, from New York to Hong Kong, from São Paulo, to Paris, to Cape Town and all the other cities of the 70 countries touched by the “ola” of last January 17, Spaghetti with tomato sauce have re- established the preponderance pasta should retain in a pasta dish. Exactly like Luigi Cremona asked in an article published before IDIC. They have been a mirror where Italian Cuisine chefs all around the world have looked into and regained the pride of cooking Italian cuisine, that same pride that is frequently lost, even in Italy. This dish was there with its exciting values (healthy nutrition, affordability, flavour and balanced diet) well before the latest fashionable trends arrived. Spaghetti with tomato sauce ought to be the symbol of the next Expo in Milan (2015). There is no other more quintessentially Italian and universal at the same time than Spaghetti with tomato sauce. There is no better food to nourish the planet (the topic of the expo) than spaghetti. Politics and multinationals obviously had another idea.
CHILDREN OF THE SUN & WINDS OF OPTIMISM
“The history and culture of a country can be reflected in one single dish”, wrote the French author Roland Barthes. Perhaps the whole history of Italy cannot be contained in a dish of Spaghetti with tomato sauce. The only sure thing is that Italians have a strong link to this dish. For this reason perhaps the ola of spaghetti on January 17 has been also a moment of “liberation”. It has been as if each single dish of spaghetti on that day was bringing a wind of optimism and a light, leaving behind the grey that lately has prevailed in Italy. Spaghetti and tomato sauce are sons of the Italian sun. They are beloved also for that reason. They have something similar to the freshness of children, their innocence and their beauty, as well as their vital energy and deepness, a gift that nature reserves for both simple people and things.
Not by chance, chef Cesare Casella – the restless promoter of IDIC events in New York – use these words by Leonardo da Vinci, as his professional motto: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.