New York. I was walking around the city and at some point I could smell the aroma of food. There was no doubt: I was in Little Italy. Italian restaurants were everywhere and there wasn’t a free table because, in spite of imitations, Italian cuisine is always a certainty. Everyone has tasted an Italian dish at least once in their life due to the fact that Italian produce is sold everywhere. Each Italian dish is related to the region it comes from. Chefs try to make dishes with genuine products and they work with love, because the more you love what you are doing the more successful it will be. But this does not mean Italians are always at the top of culinary classifications, as can be seen in the recent classification of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Italian food editor Margo Schachter wrote in a recent article about Italian chef Massimo Bottura, who is no longer the best chef in the world. This year, Eleven Madison Park of New York may have outdone Bottura’s Osteria Francescana, but at Bottura’s restaurant, located in the heart of Modena, you can still experience wonderful Italian hospitality, because as Bottura says “The table is where the journey begins”. This great chef wants to take traditional Italian food all around the world, but in a new form. Actually those expecting the usual Italian dishes might be a little surprised to find out about Bottura’s quaint menu. What about “An eel swimming up the Po River” for starters, “Bollito not boiled” for the second course and finally, for dessert “Oops! I dropped the lemon tart“. Or maybe you would feel more like having some “Yellow is bello“? Not only could you taste delicious food, you also could know the real food art. Like a painter who interprets reality and reproduces what he has seen in his painting, Bottura transfers Italy and its culture into his dishes creatively and with…a touch of humour!
Italy is famous for its fresh, natural and original products. Think, for example, of the tasty Mozzarella di Bufala or the cruncy Cantucci di Toscana. However, in addition to the genuineness and goodness of these products, Bottura adds artistic creativity and also enables his guests to interpret his dishes. For example, if you see on the menu a dish named “An eel swimming up the Po River”, you can imagine anything whatsoever according to your own taste and imagination so that your expectations will probably be high. I’m telling you, you will not be disappointed! Undoubtedly, when the waiter brings you the dish, you will be satisfied, at least with the expertise in the mixing and blending of the ingredients and tastes. Only then will you know what authentic Italian cuisine means.
Cooking is a form of art and it needs passion and love in order to be special. Bottura says “Cooking is a collision of ideas, techniques, and cultures. It is not mathematical. It is emotional”. Do you want to feel happy? Eat Italian.
All the photographs in this post have been provided through the courtesy of Chef Luca Dell’Oro