The theme of the 2019 World Pasta Day, as illustrated in the following news, is splendid: Al Dente. It’s the blessing/curse of us Italians, because we never seem to fully explain what it means to foreigners. But it’s also difficult to find a consistent point of view on timing among Italians, along the peninsula.

For me it is a sign of how rich our extraordinary culinary culture is. Nobody renounces to their knowledge, to the stories that have reached them, and of which they have become ambassadors. And in this mixing of sensations, of ancient palates’ heritage and of projections of new pairings and different textures, al dente becomes our concept, the distinguishing feature of a people.

Paolo Marchi

 

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Monograno Felicetti 
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Newsletter 78 del 13 november 2019

Dear {{NOME}},

The theme of the 2019 World Pasta Day, as illustrated in the following news, is splendid: Al Dente. It’s the blessing/curse of us Italians, because we never seem to fully explain what it means to foreigners. But it’s also difficult to find a consistent point of view on timing among Italians, along the peninsula.

For me it is a sign of how rich our extraordinary culinary culture is. Nobody renounces to their knowledge, to the stories that have reached them, and of which they have become ambassadors. And in this mixing of sensations, of ancient palates’ heritage and of projections of new pairings and different textures, al dente becomes our concept, the distinguishing feature of a people.

Paolo Marchi

 

The long week of the World Pasta Day

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On October 18th, the long week that led to the 2019 World Pasta Day, always set on October 25th, began. It’s a celebration that has culminated on the same day since 1995, when the first World Pasta Congress took place in Rome. On that occasion, pasta producers from all around the world decided that it was necessary to increase the promotion of pasta consumption and the exchange of ideas and experiences.

A fifth of a century and 21 editions later, Italian pasta producers celebrated once again the uniqueness of pasta with Al Dente, a festival which, from the 18th to the 25th of October, got involved restaurants, in Italy and abroad, which prepared recipes inspired by the theme of this edition: #pasta2050. The web page including all the feeds and posts of the pasta dishes had been buzzing for quite a long time before then. 
There are all sorts of pasta, and in every possible language, proving how this food is universal: from cold pasta to gluten-free, from discussions on how the dish is Mediterranean, to nutrients. Organisers at Unione Italiana Food and at IPO (International Pasta Organization) invited bloggers and pasta lovers to post photos and videos that would enrich the “virtual spaghettata” that took place on October 25th (find out more here).

Putting the party aside, that day producers, chefs, sociologists, and consumption experts tried to reply to a specific question: «What will pasta be like in 30 years’ time?». Audience and experts were to answer.

Riccardo Felicetti: pasta is the food of the next millennium

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Among the promoters of this important event, Riccardo Felicetti, vice president at Unione Italiana Food and president of its pasta division, in which the old Aidepi and Aiipa merged, was in the frontline.

«On October 25th our plan was to get a large number of professionals and public involved», the patron of Monograno Felicetti explained. «The only certainty we have about the future is that pasta will continue to be a pillar of global diet in the next millennium, just like it’s been in the millennium that has just ended. But there are endless variables at play, and it is good to start to imagine possible scenarios with the help of university professors, experts of sustainability, journalists, nutritionists, pasta producers, designers, chefs, food bloggers, experts of future food scenarios».

One interesting fact from which to start from: despite carbo-phobia, over the last decade the consumption of dry pasta has almost doubled, from 9 to around 15 million tons. Italy remains a point of reference in terms of volumes and culture.

The identikit of future pasta

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Spaghetti Milano from Andrea Ribaldone

In order to launch the debate on what pasta will look like in 30 years’ time, the organisers of the WPD 2019 have listed the possible scenarios that give origin to 6 trends, worth illustrating.

1) Classic. While it is true that food styles change, the scenario might not necessarily change so fast, in the coming 3 decades, that all that exists will be blown away. This is why, according to experts, Pasta with tomato sauce will still remain popular. It’s the pasta of the present and of the future, «the standard bearer of the Mediterranean diet around the world».

2) Ethical. In the future interest for vegetal-based diets will become more and more dominating. Which means “pasta & vegetables”, in other words, nothing new but surely a pair that we’ll be explored in every possible way, especially in the sustainable one.

3) Global. Pasta will be more and more an open ground for influences coming from afar. For the Eastern market, for instance, they are already conducting experiments on “instant pasta”, in the style of noodles. «After all», the pasta producers at the WDP explain, «pasta has always been, by nature, fusion and ready for change».

4) Different. Pastas made with ingredients still to be discovered will be more and more established. We’ve already “digested” whole-wheat pasta, and pasta made with pulse flour (peas, broad beans, chickpeas), spelt pasta, kamut pasta… In the future we might come across other ingredients: seaweed, mega-fruits, micro-proteins, jellyfish, insects…

5) Simple. Less is more, the principle that is becoming more and more popular, not just in fine dining, will also be more and more fitting for pasta. This food is destined to become more and more essential and healthy. «Simple sauces», the study reports, «even the elementary ones, like pasta with oil and Parmigiano or pasta with peas, will experience a new season of success. And food delivery will be one of the frontiers where the future of pasta will be at play».

6) Aware. Correct information on pasta will become more and more important, restating that pasta is first of all 3 things: good, safe and sustainable. So no more space for fake news which have no scientific value and for carbo-phobia. Instead, let’s make space for understanding the real features of a product.

Scarallo, pasta-non-pasta and spaghettoni

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In October, at Identità Golose Milano Lino Scarallo, chef at Palazzo Petrucci in Villa Donn'Anna, one Michelin star on the seafront of Posillipo, Naples, signed three dinners. He conquered the audience with Tagliolini made with calamari, with wild clams (in the photo), a pasta-non-pasta because it’s not made with durum wheat, but with calamari cut very thin. A strong, seafood flavour, rich in iodine, like diving among the waves, with strong and satisfying flavours.

Right after that he served real pasta, the Spaghettoni di Gragnano, sauce of green olives, anchovies in tortiera and crumble of friarielli: «It’s a dish inspired by tradition - Scarallo explained – because blue tail fish has always been part of our cuisine. Moreover, it refers to a traditional recipe, alici in tortiera, which in everyday Neapolitan life are a rich main course, with the anchovies served in the shape of a cake, with oil, parsley, garlic and oregano. I followed this inspiration, adding a strong note given by the sauce of olives, and finally I season the anchovies with this sauce of tortiera and some tomatoes confit. It’s a simple, rich dish, always very appreciated».

Niccolò Vecchia

Puffed mezze maniche from Roy Caceres

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Early in October, Colombian Roy Caceres - chef at Metamorfosi, one Michelin star in Rome – opened his 4 dinners at the Hub of Identità Golose Milano with a starter of pasta, Uovo 65° carbonara (in the photo by Andrea Di Lorenzo). «It’s been in our menu for 8 years», he explained, «it’s one of the first we created, with the desire of conquering the Roman public and illustrate our idea of cuisine. Contemporary, creative, but with strong local foundations».

«The egg is cooked at 65°C for 40 minutes, adding crispy jowl bacon from Cinta senese pigs, cheese and Sarawak pepper». In fact, there’s no pasta. It’s represented by the puffed mezze maniche, to which we add the puffed pork rind: when people eat the dish, they add the mezze maniche with egg, and mix everything together.

«The idea is that what’s crucial in Carbonara is its creaminess: I wanted to concentrate this creaminess, thus allowing people to experience the essence of the recipe, without making pasta».
NV

Aubergines 1: Michelangelo Mammoliti in Guarene

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In the magnificent 24-step tasting menu at La Madernassa in Guarene (Cuneo), one Michelin star, we were struck by Ritorno a Casa, a firework from chef Michelangelo Mammoliti. His Spaghetti with parmigiana cream with coulis of preserved tomatoes are cooked in an extract of roasted aubergines. «It’s a motherly dish». (photo from Tanio Liotta)

Carlo Passera

Aubergines/2: David Tamburini in Bangkok

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The photo (from Gabriele Zanatta) shows the Spaghetti with burnt aubergines from David Tamburini, Tuscan chef at the helm of restaurant La Scala inside the Sukhotai hotel in Bangkok. «It’s my favourite dish», he told us illustrating how it was created, «it’s emblematic and definitive at the same time. I tried to ‘cook’ pasta without ruining our memory of it while giving a strong personal touch».

«I started working on this recipe in 2011, when I was working at Casa Grugno, in Taormina. The starting point was a new take on Pasta alla Norma. At first it was a simple dish of spaghetti mixed with a cream of roasted aubergines, tomatoes and ricotta salata. Aubergines are another ingredient I’m crazy about, it’s a real fixation of mine. I like their taste, the texture, the colour. It’s an emblematic Mediterranean ingredient. Cooked on the embers, it can cross borders, the Mediterranean sea and its people, mixing and renewing traditions».

The recipe found its final version in Modica in 2013, when Tamburini was working at La Gazza Ladra («a magical place»): «The vegetation water from the aubergines cooked on the embers struck me: the sweetness of the sugars, concentrated during the cooking, the bitterness released by the burnt peel, the grilled aroma filtered by the pulp, the intense colour and the slippery texture…».
«Initially, it became a broth in which I served a soup. Right after the spaghetti. Cooked for a short time in salted water, the spaghetti finish cooking in the pan with the aubergine water, in the style of risotto. The spaghetti acquire its colour, the smoky flavour from the embers. With the water concentrating through evaporation, the pasta thickens automatically with a little extra virgin olive oil. On the plate I add a few date tomatoes – peeled, and dried in the sun – and some flakes of ricotta dura, which is elegant and rich in its rustic character».

These details show a philosophy: «For me the essence, the emotion of Italian flavours is a matter of gestures, rather than technique. And of products, which must be simple, recognisable, but also unique, and personal». A magnificent first course, full of personality.
GZ

Spaghettone from Del Sorbo: true modernity

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Spaghettoni di Gragnano with tomato in bianco, basil caviar, cream of yellow date tomatoes from Vesuvius. This is the full name of one of the best dishes in the tasting menu from Marco Del Sorbo, chef at Terrazza Fiorella, inside the Art Hotel Villa Fiorella in Massa Lubrense, Sorrento. It’s a proof of how you can translate our excellent flavours in a modernity that is not just seemingly so, but which can be appreciated on the palate thanks to its intensity, sapidity, with the sour and sweet components in the right place. (photo from Tanio Liotta)
CP

Masterful ravioli del plin from Chicco Cerea

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A small footnote on fresh pasta, in the mare magnumof dry pasta. This is only to say that, a few weeks ago, we tasted some marvellous Ravioli del plin with pumpkin, gorgonzola and king crab bisque from Chicco Cerea, 3 Michelin stars at restaurant Da Vittorio in Brusaporto (Bergamo). The occasion was a lunch when we tested the properties of shio koji, a fermented seasoning used to make food tastier and more tender. Ravioli, pumpkin, zola, crab bisque: balanced elements in an explosive mix.
GZ