More food less food –

This is an article from the latest issue of Linkiesta Magazine + New York Times Turning Points 2022 on newsstands in Milan and Rome and can be ordered here.

I have studied and frequented the world of gastronomy and wine for more than twenty years. And in this long period, during which I have seen food turn into food, then perhaps preparing to return to food after an unbroken series of revolutions, I understood only one thing: everything that we think we know on average on this subject is wrong. Or in any case it is a partial vision of a much broader, much more multiple, much more complex discourse.

Simplifying reality only trivializes it: and being able to really explain what is hidden behind that tomato sauce from the supermarket or that strategic choice of a guide is a long and complicated cultural exercise. But since no one, other than us insiders compulsively dealing with it, really has the time to devote to it, any effective message immediately becomes an overriding reality, especially if it’s masked by some kind of narrative. green or traditionalist.

Mother yeasts and ancient cereals, non-meat meats and organic farming, natural wine and foods without palm oil, zero km and Italian spirit at all costs. Pure propaganda slogans which are the perfect fuel for social networkalthough in most cases only the fake news well orchestrated. You have to start with lexical choices.

Prefer the term “food” to the term “food“, For me, is equivalent to stopping talking about a fad and pure entertainment try to bring it back to its most authentic meaning. Trying to explain trends and slogans, give them context and talk about them in a meaningful structure will lead us to better understand what we eat, why we eat it and especially the fault (or the merit!) of who we eat it. .

Because eating is a cultural act: starting from the choice of what we use to feed ourselves, through its production and up to the kitchen, which acts as an intermediary between us and nature. Ludwig Feuerbach writes “man is what he eats”, arguing that there is an inseparable unity between the psyche and the body: to think better you have to eat better.

Massimo Montanari, one of our country’s greatest food historians, reverses this phrase and argues that we eat what we are, that is, we put our culture, our know-how, our technological and social evolution in the foods we produce and cook. . Me, more simply and more “physically”, I always emphasize that what we eat becomes us. Not only does it enter our body and then pass through it, but it becomes an integral part of it. Let’s think about it, whenever we decide to harm ourselves with bad, undercooked or unethical food.

But when did food become food? When food was just food, Mario Soldati, the first truly great popularizer of Italian food and wine, spoke about it with unforgettable skill, with so much content and little spectacle, in which the protagonist was the product and not the conductor of the Pin up.

Maybe a little slow, for us contemporary viewers, maybe a little too didactic, but certainly efficient and punctual, service, and really able to explain the ingredients, the territory, the work and the craftsmanship. In recent years, with food becoming foodon the contrary, we have arrived at the time of the greatest spectacularity of this theme, which on television reached its peak with programs such as “Masterchef” or similar.

We serve the food, we smell it, we challenge it, we judge it and – horror! – we throw it away. So, to put on a show. To have fun. Is this route the right one? In my opinion, no. Using food as entertainment for itself, throwing it away to prove competent critics is an aberration from its highest and most important meaning. Food is food and as such must be respected and treated. Always remembering that, even without the tearful rhetoric, what for us is a game, for much of the world is still a daily need, often unmet.

“To travel is to know places, people and countries. […] And what is the easiest and most basic way to travel? Eat and practice the cuisine of a country where you travel. In the kitchen there is everything, the nature of the place, the climate, therefore agriculture, pastoralism, hunting, fishing. And in the way of cooking there is the history, the civilization of a people. How did the man get the idea to travel? But most likely he had it while standing still and looking at something moving, traveling, going, e.g. clouds in the sky, birds migrating, a river flowing. »

These words are those of Mario Soldati who, from December 3, 1957, built the culinary narrative of the Italian trip with his “Journey to the Po Valleys” broadcast by Rai: if, perhaps infected by foodyou can also use a swear word, Soldati created it narration about the food to discover while traveling: in his narrated documentary, the writer brings to life a counter-current way of spreading the traditions of regional cuisine, giving prestige to cotechini and Parmigiano Reggiano, to rice and fish from river, and to reveal to the whole nation how much this corner of its own had something to offer from a landscape and culinary point of view.

The kitchen and the territory, in the following years, did not get along very well, and all the programs that followed were often pure entertainment and zero storytelling, a lot of auctorial construction and very little spontaneity of characters entangled in a role -caricature. it wasn’t them.

Until 2021, when “Dinner Club” has arrived and we may have reached the turning point. To turn around, however, this transmission begins to tell contemporary Italy from the great river, almost as if there were a Red string to resume, as if what had happened in the meantime had been just an accident and that we needed the courage to look back to bring us back to a today where authentic cuisine, stories of traditions and families, those who raise oysters on the Po, those who rediscover the fifth quarter in Puglia or those who keep the recipe for the perfect cannoli in Sicily.

Finally, the chief that Cracco is going to visit with his fellow adventurers cooking, explaining, talking and seeming extraordinarily normal people, who do a job that they love and want to share with us. May it be time to bring back the narrative of the food to that of food? Could this be the first small drop that will lead us to really get to know the enormous Italian gastronomic and wine heritage?

We want to actively participate in this linguistic revolution, to be the spokespersons for this new era of contemporary Italian cuisine. Who explains and does not take for granted, who tells and does not boast, who understands and does not imagine. And that brings the food to its original meaning.

Linkiesta Magazine + New York Times World Review on newsstands in Milan and Rome and can be ordered here.

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