International Day of Italian Cuisines

International Day of Italian Cuisines 2014

IDIC 2014 in the media



In English

The excellent coverage of Julia Della Croce of the NYC event
Saipan Tribune
 


In Italian

Il Corriere della Sera
Luciano Pignataro´s article on the Pompeii event
Francesca D´Oorazio and her impressions of the Milano Event

IDIC by Luigi Cremona
Italia a Tavola and the NY Launch
Gambero Rosso
 


Videos

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Fine Dining Lovers
ANSA
Repubblica TV

Video 4

Video 5

Video 6

Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket
Davide Oldani for S.Pellegrino
NTD TV
 

 

 

IDIC 2014: THE IMPERTINENT TRUTH OF SPAGHETTI WITH TOMATO SAUCE

By Rosario Scarpato

Toto
Fabio Cappellano, Il Tratufo, Netherlands

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.

 

Gaia - Paolo Monti
Paolo Monti, GAIA, Hong Kong

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

Toto
Matteo Bergamini, Enrico Bartolini
and Luca Signoretti

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 MarzanoVesuvius 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

Toto
Totò in Poverty and Nobility

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

Gaia - Paolo Monti
At Opera Bombana: Danny Allegretti, Marino
D’Antonio, Lele Pauletto and "il Maestro"
Umberto Bombana

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

Toto
Tiny Tomatoes from Piennolo that grow in the heart
of the San Marzano district of Vesuvius, Naples

“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”. 

 

IDIC 2014: Great Chefs Celebrating the Essence of Italian Cuisine

 The spaghetti of Opera Bombana with "il Team" from left: Danny Allegretti, Marino D’Antonio, Lele Pauletto and "il Maestro" Umberto Bombana.

 Itchefs-GVCI called and the world responded with a unique turn out

 

A Special Celebration in Milano with Giacomo Gallina & Tano Simonato hosted by Angelo Nasta

The city of Milano, among so many around the globe (see the map for more info), joined this IDIC 2014 with a distinguished celebration. It took place at Hotel Villa Torreta, hosted by Chef Angelo Nasta and with the special participation of Master Chefs Giacomo Gallina and Tano Simonato.

They also featured in the live connection with New York City , where the IDIC Launch took place simultaneously.

The presenter of the evening was Italian Food Writer Francesca D´Orazio.

Photos: Lele Buonerba

 

The Gala Dinner with Chef Bartolini

IDIC 2014 Gala Dinner took place at the International Culinary Center and was hosted by Chef Cesare Casella from Salumeria Rosi, Ristorante Rosi and Dean of Italian Studies at the Italian Culinary Center . It was prepared by Guest Master Chef Enrico Bartolini, Devero Ristorante, Milan -2 Michelin Stars-. It was a wonderful dinner, a true opportunity to experience a bit of Milano´s cuisine with the expertise and talent of this young but non the less experienced chef. During the Dinner the Grana Padano Italian Cuisine Worldwide Awards were be presented to the winners that will flew from all over the world to receive the Award.

(this event was by invitation only)

 

The Launch in New York City

The launch of IDIC 2014, our 7th Edition, took place in New York City at the International Culinary Center  - School of Italian Studies with a day of great events. Cesare Casella (Salumeria Rosi & Ristorante Rosi), ever present figure of Italian cuisine in New York City and Dean of Italian Studies at the ICC, was the host. Rosario Scarpato, creator and director of the IDIC, was in charge of the Live connections with the President in Pompeii, Napoli and with Hotel Villa Torreta in Milano.

This year, Master Chef Enrico Bartolini from Milan, one of Italy’s premier, two-Michelin-starred chefs, was our special Guest Master Chef. The day featured Italian Chefs and artisans as they prepared a variety of Italian culinary specialties related to our 2014 official dish: Spaghetti al dente with Tomato Sauce and Basil and its main ingredients. They did so with demonstrations, presentations and tastings. The event also featured New York´s own Chef Matteo Bergamini of SD26 Restaurant (former Best Emerging Chef), and Chef Luca Signoretti from Roberto’s Restaurant in Dubai (UAE). The three chefs, all under 35, represent a new generation of talented new Italian chefs, though well rooted in the tradition.

The Italian Cuisine in the US Awards and the Best Emerging chef of Italian Cuisine in New York Award was presented to the winners.

The MC was Alessandra Rotondi.

 Photo: Thanks to Julia della Croce.
 

THE CELEBRATION IN THE LAND OF THE BEST INGREDIENTS TO PREPARE SPAGHETTI POMODORO E BASILICO

Among the hundreds of restaurants celebrating the IDIC all around the world there was “The President”  in Pompeii (Naples), just a few meters away from the famous archaeological area. The chef patron Paolo Gramaglia and his wife Laila, a very talented sommelier, hosted an event celebrating both the region where the Spaghetti al dente with tomato sauce and basil were born (Campania) and the area where some of the best ingredients to prepare this dish come from. Pompeii is in the heart of the area where San Marzano Tomatoes PDO  and Piennolo Vine Tomato from Mount Vesuvius PDO are grown. Both are believed to be the best choice of tomato to make Spaghetti al Pomodoro. In addition Pompeii is very close to one of the areas where some of the best spaghetti in the world are produced: the district of Gragnano  that just a few months ago received the IGP (Geographical Indication Protected) from the European Union.

 

Luciano Pignataro , one of the most prestigious Italian food and wine writers, conducted the night and they all took part of  a live video conference with New York, where the main event of the IDIC was being celebrated. Chef Paolo Gramaglia, the representative of a family that has been in the hospitality industry for generations, cooked the spaghetti with different types of tomatoes and showed the tricks to make them utterly flavorful. 

 

7th EDITION OF IDIC: THE PROGRAM

Check out the activities planed for the NY Premiere and more.

 

THE COURAGE OF MAKING THE AUTHENTIC SPAGHETTI AL DENTE WITH TOMATO SAUCE AND BASIL

by Rosario Scarpato


Marco Sacco

An Italian Chef, a friend of mine, working far from Italy, wrote to me that in his opinion Spaghetti with tomato and Basil are not strong enough – as a dish - to stimulate the palate, the senses and the imagination of food lovers. According to him, it’s not a dish capable of making the foodies to dream. I know this chef, I respect him, he is a good professional and not a chef wasting his time after foams and other frivolous culinary inventions, those inventions – by the way – that condemn to agony and often to death many Michelin starred restaurants. I answered him that he was wrong: spaghetti with tomato sauce are the dream of Italian Cuisine, the magic of a mix of ingredients, wisdom and history that a very few other dishes in the world have. Unfortunately this dish is manipulated, tormented and crucified almost everywhere. And here – sorry for the immodesty- I speak as a food critic who has literally turned the world over the past 25 years: 80% of chefs do not know make a dish of spaghetti, al dente (to begin with) with tomato sauce and basil. All around the world I saw both aberrations made by Italians and crimes against humanity, perpetrated by foreigners, all labelled with the name of this dish.

In order not to offend him, I told my friend the Chef that he doesn't see this dish as exciting because maybe his spaghetti al pomodoro and basilico are already the best in the world: he perhaps uses handcrafted Italian pasta, to which he matches special flavourful piennolo tomatoes from Vesuvius and chooses extra virgin olive oils made to marry exclusively his spaghetti. Maybe he makes them with rare basil flown in from Pra (Genova – Liguria). If that’s the case, I understand him: his lucky customers will not get excited by spaghetti al pomodoro, 'cause they have the good fortune to know his. However, believe me, in the rest of the world things go in a totally different way. The bulk of what you see in circulation is just disgraceful and dishonourable versions of spaghetti with tomato sauce and basil. If one walks only 500 meters in any street near Times Square in New York can find hundred of examples. I am talking about New York City, where the Italian Cuisine heritage is very strong, not Mumbai or Bangkok. The truth is that the vast majority of chefs who make spaghetti with tomato sauce have never eaten the authentic ones made with outstanding ingredients.

The simple act of cooking spaghetti is an art itself. And it requires great technique and research. I never would have imagined, for example, that I would learn how from Chef Marco Sacco, in a cooking class in Moscow, where both Russian journalists´ and Italian jaws dropped. Marco Sacco is a two Michelin star chef, not from the South, not from Naples (the capital of Spaghetti al Pomodoro), but from Mergozzo, Lake Maggiore: on research, innovation and creativity he is second to none and he cooks traditional spaghetti "perfectly". So, of what lack of emotions are we talking about? The next 17 January 2014, on the day of IDIC – International Day of Italian Cuisines, cook spaghetti with tomato sauce with quality ingredients, put the best of yourself as a cook in each of these seemingly simple dishes, and you will see that food lovers at any latitude will not forget them so easily. Making spaghetti with tomato sauce as they should be, in this day and age, in Italy and outside, is a real challenge. It takes courage and perhaps not everyone has it. So, a big cheer to all the brave chefs who are going to put spaghetti with tomato sauce and basil in their menus on next January 17, 2014, in the seventh edition of the International Day of Italian Cuisine.
 

 

IN DEFENSE OF THE ITALIAN “PRIMO PIATTO”

by Luigi Cremona – Italian Wine and Food writer


Gennaro Esposito´s Spaghetti al Pomodoro, Torre del Saracino Restaurant. One of the 10 great Italian Spaghetti that one must try at least once in life, according to Albert Sapere.

Spaghetti al dente with tomato sauce and basil

I am very happy for the dish chosen for the International Day of Italian Cuisines 2014.

It’s the most Italian of all recipes and it’s a recipe on which we must think about. We Italians too often are very good at dispersing our heritage, including the gastronomic one. We have invented recipes that the entire world likes for their flavour, their goodness and their healthy contents, though we very often dissipate their value with highly questionable methods and procedures.

The most common mistake in Italian restaurants, especially those abroad, is in the way chefs manage the first course, “il primo piatto”, commonly a pasta dish, which in Italian cuisine is NOT a main course. They are scared of giving the customers a small portion, as it should be. In order to justify the price of a dish that doesn’t contain expensive ingredients (like spaghetti al pomodoro e basilico) they overact by adding scampi o pigeon breasts in bellavista to the pasta, put too much filling in the fresh ravioli, and end in transforming un “primo piatto”, which is a kind of introductory light course, in a main course or even a one-dish meal.

The primo piatto, literally first dish, is the part of the meal that better identifies Italian cuisine and we should defend and preserve it. We must recover, if we ever lost it, the pride of offering spaghetti dishes where spaghetti are truly the first and predominant ingredient of the recipe. All the rest we include in the dish must be a complement, a not invasive, moderate enrichment, a condiment that must be naturally absorbed by pasta, which at end should not sadly and uselessly float in the plate.

I hope that the next 17 January can be the opportunity of recovering the right measure with the preparation of a recipe (spaghetti al dente with tomato sauce and basil), considered amongst the most simple of Italian cuisine, but if made with the due attention and preparation is one of the most flavourful.
 

 

The Recipe: SPAGHETTI AL DENTE WITH TOMATO SAUCE AND FRESH BASIL


Mario Caramella´s version of this year´s recipe.

Serves 4

- 400 gr durum wheat Italian spaghetti

- 2 cans of Italian peeled tomatoes (San Marzano PDO) – they can be replaced by 600 gr tomatoes from piennolo)

- Fresh garlic

- 5 spoons extra virgin olive oil

- Salt

- Fresh basil

Method

- In a large pan lightly brown the fresh garlic in the extra virgin olive oil (avoid burning it or it will taste bitter and not right)

- Add the tomatoes, cook at medium heat for 8-10 minutes

- Cook the spaghetti al dente, drain them and toss in the tomato sauce for 1-2 minutes over medium heat

- Put the spaghetti in individual previously warmed plates; add some sauce, a few drops of extra virgin olive oil and a couple of fresh basil leaves on each plate

- Serve warm

You may add some grated Grana Padano PDO cheese, a rather common habit in some Italian families, but the original recipe didn’t include it.

 

SPAGHETTI: THE ORIGIN OF A PASTA FORMAT THAT CONQUERED THE WORLD

The name spaghetti comes from the word “spago” (string). They are mentioned for the first time in a dictionary Giacinto Carena’s "Vocabolario Domestico" (1846) and then in the "Dizionario Tommaseo-Bellini" (1861-1879). The initial record of its use in English is by Eliza Acton in her Modern Cookery, dated 1849. It’s very hard to say who invented them. It’s absolutely untrue that Spaghetti were bought by Marco Polo (1254 – 1324) from China. In 1154, well before Marco Polo was born, the people of the Sicilian town of Trabia were making a form of pasta in long strands from hard, African-style wheat and exporting it all over Italy. Muhammad al-Idrisi, the court geographer to Roger II of Sicily, wrote it in the Book of Roger, the Tabula Rogeriana.

A spaghetto (singular) would have a round section with diameter between 1.9 and 2 mm and a length that averages 2.55 mm. Spaghetti have some brothers of different formats:

Spaghettini, with a diameter of ca 1.7 mm on average

Spaghettoni, with a diameter of ca 2.15 mm on average it is a real challenge to wrap them around the fork teeth

Vermicelli, with a diameter of approximately 2.07 mm on average

Vermicellini, similar in size to Spaghettini

Italians are often depicted as Spaghetti eaters and this fame was conquered after World War II when the annual consumption of spaghetti in Italy doubled from 14 kilograms per person before the war to the 28 kilograms of 1955. Italians still eat spaghetti but not in that massive quantities. The general consumption of pasta in Italy has dropped 23% in the last decade and Spaghetti likely followed the trend. However, by now pasta if the most consumed food in more than 50 countries around the world and spaghetti are the favourite format.

Spaghetti must be cooked always al dente, which means that they have to be firm but not hard. The term "al dente" means "to the tooth" or "to the bite" and refers to the need to chew the pasta due to its firmness. Spaghetti al dente has a lower glycemic index than pasta cooked soft.

 

WHEN SPAGHETTI MET TOMATO SAUCE: AN ITALIAN VIBRANT LOVE STORY

Tomatoes (pomodori), as ingredients, are newcomers in Italian cuisine. They were part of the new ingredients slowly coming to Europe after the discovery of America. So, not surprisingly the first mention of “pasta with tomato sauce” in Italy, a sort of nouvelle cuisine for the times, was in 1790. It appeared in L’apicio moderno, a cookbook written by the globetrotter chef Francesco Leonardi who, by the way, can be considered one of the fathers of Italian Cuisine abroad since he cooked in the kitchens of queens and tsars, returning home at the end of his career. A recipe for tomato sauce, without pasta, however was in Lo scalco alla moderna a cookbook by Antonio Latini published in 1692.

David Gentilcore in his Pomodoro: A History of the Tomato in Italy, writes that the first mention of using tomatoes in a pasta dish was actually French, and it was in L'Almanach des gourmands (1807) of the famous gastronome Alexandre-Balthazar-Laurent Grimod de la Reyniere. However Gentilcore makes clear as well that “the marriage between pasta and the tomato is usually said to have taken place in Naples”. As Donna Gabaccia of University of Minnesota wrote: “Naples in the late eighteenth century gained a reputation, spread throughout Europe by curious tourists, as the home of macaroni eating. Street markets featured young men and boys who ritualistically and dramatically consumed long noodles dressed only with a grating of cheese…. Almost simultaneously, in the 1830s, tourists and travellers began to report finding both traditional dishes regularly topped with tomatoes and with tomato sauce”. Ippolito Cavalcanti, the Neapolitain author of La cucina teorico-pratica, a very popular cookbook published in 1837, included the recipe for Vermicelli pasta al pomodoro but didn’t describe how the tomato sauce was made since everyone knew how to make it. Relatively soon, in 1847, 'macaroni a la napolitana,' combining pasta and tomatoes arrived in the United States, according to Gentilcore, who also confirms that “by the 1880s, the tomato had been established as the condiment of choice for pasta for the peasants of the Campania region, and pasta itself had become a staple." Many of these peasants left Italy as migrants and went in countries all around the world, taking with them the habit of cooking pasta – spaghetti in the majority of the cases - with tomato sauce, making it one of the first globalised dishes, together with pizza.

Tomato sauce in Italian can be translated as salsa or sugo di pomodoro and John Mariani in his Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink writes rightly “that the two terms sugo and salsa are often interchangeable, with sugo reserved for a pasta sauce while salsa may be used to describe sauces that may or may not accompany pasta." According to Pellegrino Artusi, the author of La Scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene (1891), sugo di pomodoro (tomato sauce) is "simple, i.e., made from tomatoes that are simply cooked.” Although using the not appropriate word sugo, the tomato sauce of Artusi is very close to that of Spaghetti al pomodoro e basilico, often called in the United States marinara sauce.

Lidia Bastianich, for example, to sort out the difference between marinara sauce and tomato sauce: “Marinara is a quick sauce, seasoned only with garlic, pepper, and, if you like, basil or oregano. The pieces of tomato are left chunky, and the texture of the finished sauce is fairly loose. Tomato sauce, on the other hand, is a more complex affair, starting with puréed tomatoes and seasoned with onion, carrot, celery, and bay leaf, and left to simmer until thickened and rich in flavour”. Pepper and oregano are not ingredients of traditional Neapolitan spaghetti al dente al pomodoro e basilico but the Marinara of Lidia is certainly very close to the authentic recipes. By the 1920’s Spaghetti and tomato sauce became so popular in the United States that Americans often thought they invented it. The same happened in many other countries, from Germany to the United Kingdom, from Brazil to Australia, and more recently to Japan and other Asian countries.

The problem with this dish has always been that, although very easy to prepare and simple, it changes totally if the right ingredients are not used or the cooking time of pasta is exceeded. Italian tomatoes - fresh, canned or from the piennolo (deeply flavoured, fleshy cherry tomatoes, ripened in clusters, at once richly sweet and tart), durum wheat spaghetti, pure extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil are the ideal ingredients. Quality ingredients make a huge difference. For this reason Italian migrants first, and then food lovers all around the world, have been seeking Italian imported ingredients. The recipe is very simple but each chef may have some little trick – but absolutely no addition of fancy elements.

 

The Protagonists

Check out who is ready to celebrate Italian Cuisine this year. Also, find a nearby restaurant to do it in style.

 

THE OFFICIAL DISH::: IDIC 2014

It was announced during the Italian Cuisine World Summit by GVCI President Mario Caramella and Honorary President Rosario Scarpato: Spaghetti Pomodoro e Basilico! A simple but emblematic dish and so frequently missunderstood. So...get ready and AVANTI!

 

What IDIC stands for

The International Day of Italian Cuisines IDIC was born as a reaction against the systematic forgery of Italian cuisine and products. It aims at protecting the right of worldwide consumers to get authentic and quality Italian cuisine when they go to eateries labeled as “Italian”. Thousands of chefs, restaurateurs and lovers of Italian Food all over the world join the annual IDIC appeal, a tradition by now, launched by itchefs-GVCI (Virtual Group of Italian Chefs), a network of over 1900 culinary professionals working in 70 countries. True Italian cuisine is part of the world’s cultural heritage; its celebration is not against creativity in the kitchen or innovation. It’s only about establishing some basic principles: when the name of a traditional Italian dish is used, that dish should be prepared in the traditional manner.

 

The International Day of Italian Cuisines: why 17th January?

08_-Scanno-sagne-con-ricott

January 17 is a date of great symbolic importance. It’s the day of the catholic feast of Sant’Antonio Abate, one of the most popular saints of Italy, the patron of domestic animals, but also of butchers and salami makers. On this day, according to tradition, the Italian Carnival begins, that period of the year during which, since unmemorable time, it’s “licet insanire,” transgressions are tolerated and good, rich food is celebrated and, along with this: cooking.

The cult of Saint Anthony “of January”, who was a hermit who lived in Egypt in the 13th century, is rooted in earlier pagan feasts, le sementine (that celebrates the end of the sowing season) of ancient Rome in honour of Ceres, the Goddess of the Earth.

07_-Santantonio-abate

The sacred and the profane as well as Celtic and Latin rites are mixed together here. Therefore this occasion is celebrated in Italy, from north to south, on January 17th in many different ways. The devotion to the saint is very strong in Pinerolo, in the Province of Turin, in the Province of Como, in Lombardy and in Emilia Romagna.

On the other hand, in the south on that evening “fires” are lit, “focaroni,” “focarazzi” or “focaracci” – bonfires, people congregate in crowds around these pyres to give hommage to the saint who, according to legend, banished the devil and took dominion of the fires of hell. This is what is done in Puglia, Sardinia, Campania e Abruzzo.

09_-Scanno-sagne-con-ricott

In the latter, in the town of Scanno this feast has been celebrated since the fourteenth century until recently with great, steaming pans of sagna (home made pasta) and ricotta in the town square, while in Lanciano a holy representation was held. Also in Lazio, especially in the towns of Nepi and Velletri, in the area of Tuscia, the feast still has strong gastronomic characteristics. In general, almost all the celebrations of 17th January ended with a collection of food products that the entire community then consumed collectively.

10_-Focarazzi

Elsewhere, in Guastalla in Emilia Romagna, the fried gnocco (gnocco fritto) is the king of the feast. Saint Antonio has always been represented by a suckling pig (by a wild boar in Celtic countries) whose meat was the most highly esteamed ingredient of a meal at the Italian peasant’s table. Once, many rural communities collectively raised a piglet that they then butchered and ate on that day. Ancient fairs, such as that of Lonato, in Lombardy, that used to be held on 17th January but today have fallen out of use, were completely a celebration of cooking and eating of pork, of which in peasant tradition, as it is of common knowledge, nothing went to waste.