International Day of Italian Cuisines


2011 - Singapore. Mario Caramella prepare authentic pesto with Massimo Bottura — with Mario Caramella and Massimo Bottura

(Rosario Scarpato) We must look at the next ten years. That’s our goal now. Otherwise why we have battled and worked in the last ten years? There is nothing more vital and pleasant than looking at the future challenges when you are celebrating an important birthday, as the 10th edition of the IDIC International Day of Italian Cuisines. Since the first edition the IDIC has been and is the “national day” of the itchefs-gvci network; thousands of chefs, restaurateurs and culinary professionals working in 76 countries in the world, who gather in the GVCI 2001 yahoo Forum online (chaired by Mario Caramella) and in tens of events organised all around the world every year. More recently has become an important event for all those who do authentic Italian Cuisine around the world.
The IDIC, the day of the Italian Culinary Pride (as wrote Paolo Marchi in the Italian newspaper Il Giornale on January 17 2009) was conceived in the autumn of 2007 with the objective of protecting and promoting the Italian culinary identity in the world. The watchword was: stop the bogus dishes, halt the fraudulent fakes and the dishonest Italian restaurants. The founding idea was to create a symbolic ola, like when you are at the stadium, done every year with a dish of the Italian tradition, cooked according to the original recipe, by as many as possible restaurants around the world. All in the same day, the 17th of January, from New Zealand to the US West Coast, through Asia, Europe and Africa. That ola, which will repeated again on January 17 with the pizza, is by now part of the history of Italian Cuisine abroad but also of the world gastronomy. The authentic Italian Cuisine is a world heritage.
Thousands of chefs, restaurateurs, food lovers joined the IDIC in these years. It seems a century ago when, in January 2008, the editor of Grub Street, the food blog of the New York Magazine, wrote half surprised and half offended that on the 17th: “Cesare Casella of Maremma, Mark Ladner of Del Posto, Kevin Garcia of Accademia del Vino e Ivan Beacco of Borgo Antico”, would have cooked spaghetti alla carbonara according to the original recipe. As that editor, the vast majority of Americans – but the same happens in all countries – care very little about the authenticity of Italian Cuisine. A real pity: firstly because they don’t know what they lose but also because they have the right of having much better food for what they pay. The IDIC in this sense was and remains an unprecedented initiative, promoted not by governments or public institutions, but by a movement of chefs, restaurateur, culinary professionals worried for the worldwide erosion of quality and authenticity benchmarks in Italian cuisine.
We have been just the coordinators of a work and a passion of many, which is not only a matter of pride (cooking authentic Italian food). The IDIC in reality defends a vast market, the work of honest producers, job positions of talented professional in the restaurants, an undeniable culinary leadership beloved by the consumers: if Italian Cuisine around the world loses its identity, it then will lose its markets. For this reason, every year, hundreds of chefs who cook Italian but are NOT Italian, join the IDIC. It’s their business at a stake.
Among the non-Italian supporters of the IDIC I have to remember the great Dorothy Cann Hamilton, who died this year in a terrible accident. She was the founder and the heart of the International Culinary Center in New York, where there is the Italian Studies Department. That Centre has been or six years in a row the main event of the IDIC. The 10th edition of this event is also a tribute to that unforgettable lady, a talented educator and business woman, a unique supporter of authentic Italian Cuisine. Sometimes I google the names of chefs working in Italian restaurant around the world. Very often they appear in the context of some edition of the IDIC. It’s a great result. In the end the idea of the IDIC was exactly this: a sane, healthy, collective marketing and branding initiative.
The IDIC has always involved, in Italy and outside, the best of Italian Chefs: from Massimo Bottura to Massimiliano Alajmo, from Gennaro Esposito to Pino Cuttaia, from Enrico Bartolini to Giancarlo Perbellini, to the Cerea brothers, Marco Sacco, Giovanni Grasso, Sergio Vineis, and please forgive me if I can’t mention all. Italian cuisine has many souls but if it’s authentic, no matter if there is a Michelin starred chefs or a cook from an Osteria, in Italy or abroad, it’s only one. We must remind this to ourselves and to the world.
What are we going to do in the next ten years? I don’t think we will get bored. There are already young chefs emerging who will emulate (or are already emulating) the chefs and restaurateurs who contributed to the birth of the IDIC and its longevity. I can’t mention all here, but I start from Paolo Pancotti. I don’t think I met him personally, but he is systematically the first chef every year to cook the official dish of the IDIC, due to his time zone (he works in New Zealand). A myth. Then I must mention all the regional activists who shared with me and Mario Caramella (then in Bali) the first steps of the IDIC: Paolo Monti, Michele Senigaglia and the Hong Kong group includin Claudio Dieli, Cesare Casella but then also Walter Potenza, Odette Fada, Vincenzo Pezzilli, Gianfranco Sorrentino, Tony Mai e Cecio Farris in the USA, Giulio Vierci in Japan (there was also Andrea Tranchero there at that time); Gabriele Paganelli in Canada; Gianni Favro, Tano Palumbo in Thialnad; Donato De Santis in Argentina; Roberto Illari in Chile; Pietro Rongoni in Russia; the beloved late Sante De Santis in Germany; Fabio Cappellano in The Netherlands; Gerardo Dereviziis in Hong Kong the in Laos now; Giorgio De Chirico and Vittorio Beltramelli in Paris; Giorgio Nava in Cape Town; Salvatore Pepe in Australia; Silvia Bernardini in Mexico, Samuele Rossi, Gennaro Miele, Giuseppe De Stefano, Francesco Sanna, Claudio Rossi (in Canada at the beginning) in China. Many of these chefs and restaurateurs were in other cities at that time: it is the case of Frederik Farina and Giovanni Parrella now in Vietnam, Sandro Falbo and Andrea Sacchi today in Singapore, Carlo Marengoni instead is still there but not at the Bologna Restaurant. Silvano Amolini now in Phuket was in Mexico, Luca Cesarini now in Thailand I can’t rember where, Sebastiano Giangregorio in Seoul, Saulo Bacchilega in Hua Hin, Giacomo Gallina in Milan, Andrea Cristofoletto always somewhere in the Dolomites. Then from the Middle East: Marcello Rivetti, Andrea Mugavero, Cosimo Danese, Maurizio Lazzarin. I still remember when in 2008 Valter Gosatti joined from Ulan Bator, first absolute entry from Mongolia followed by Luca Marchesi. Many of them are in this album… Thanks to all of you
A big thanks go finally to all who joined after and over all to those who will join from now on. What will we do in the next ten years? I don’t think we will be bored. Among the first objectives the IDIC must become part of the Italian Cuisine in World Foundation, which i about to be born, based on the Manifesto signed by hindred of chefs, restaurateurs, culinary educators and professionals and journalists. The same who have made the history of the IDIC. We will start in 2017. Auguri a tutti. For more info on the IDIC: Click here

Why 17th January?

The International Day of italian cuisines: why 17th January?

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. 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. 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.

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