“Italian food” is up there with some of the world’s favourite cuisines. Pasta, pizza, gelato, burrata… we think we know it, and we love what we know. But delve into the 20 different regions of this diverse nation, and you’ll realise how much more there is to discover. From native pears on the foothills of Mount Etna to a maggot-infested cheese considered a delicacy in Sardinia, the culinary map of Italy is as diverse as its landscape. We hope to uncover a few of these stories in this issue, dedicated to keeping these culinary traditions alive while paving the way for an innovative future.
In an ambitious deep-dive into biodiversity, our guest editor Edoardo Celadon talks to top chefs from each of Italy’s 20 regions about their favourite local ingredients. To showcase the dedication of producers, we visit Andrea Bezzecchi in Emilia Romagna, whose Balsamic Vinegar is second to none. Also we take a moment to talk about food with Italian novelist, Enrico “Erri” De Luca. For wine, one of the country’s most important exports, we talk to acclaimed critic Monica Larner about indigenous grapes. And finally, what better lens to look at Italy’s infinite food varieties than pasta? Much-loved writer and author Rachel Roddy shares her thoughts, ahead of the launch of her new book An A-Z of Pasta.
Endless Italy: Region by region, Top Chefs Share the Country’s Most Graceful Ingredients
By Edoardo Celadon and Phoebe Hunt
The stereotypes of the country’s most famous food – pasta, pizza, gelato, lasagna – risk drowning out an essential concept: Italy is not just the sum of its traditions, but a land of great producers. To summarise all of Italy’s endless produce would take many volumes, but to get an impression of our most precious and unknown ingredients we’ve asked some of the country’s top chefs to talk to us freely about biodiversity. Each acts as an incredible ambassador for their region, showcasing what provenance means to them.
Erri De Luca: the food of memories and childhood
Recognized by the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera as “the writer of the decade”, Italian novelist and poet Enrico “Erri” De Luca needs no introduction. Together with dear friend and photographer Martin d’Orgeval, I had the great pleasure of spending a moment in his presence. We were able to absorb his musing around what food meant to him growing up in Naples and now, take note of his poetic recipe for Parmigiana di Melanzane, imagining the atmosphere of this grandmother’s kitchen. Here are the extracts…
Rachel Roddy: An A to Z of Pasta
By Phoebe Hunt
There is perhaps no better way to tell the story of Italy’s culinary diversity than through pasta. Not only are there many hundreds of different shapes originating from the country’s 20 regions – often with multiple different names depending on where they’re being eaten – each pasta shape forms part of the jigsaw that is Italy’s complex food history over the last few thousand years.
Andrea Bezzecchi: The Real King of Balsamic Vinegar
By Edoardo Celadon and Phoebe Hunt
For those passionate about Italian cuisine, meeting Andrea Bezzecchi at his Balsamic Vinegar factory is similar to how meeting Michelangelo might feel for an artist. The man, the artisan, the location and the end products make Andrea one of the true custodians of the time-honored Italian heritage around Traditional Balsamic Vinegar – Aceto Balsamico. Andrea is the owner of the famous Acetaia San Giacomo, located in Novellara in the middle of the region of Emilia-Romagna. As soon as you arrive at the vinegar factory, or acetaia, you perceive that something special is about to happen. Just in time for a coffee, we immediately start the visit.
Monica Larner: Italian wine, biodiversity and indigenous grapes
With all the focus going on a few famous regions, and often overshadowed altogether by its French neighbours, the sheer variety of Italian wines is often overlooked. We talk to Monica Larner, an award-winning wine critic and writer who lives in Rome, about Italy’s fantastically diverse offering of wine.
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France seeks Unesco heritage status for the baguette
When you think of Unesco heritage status, Stonehenge, the Taj Mahal or the Great Barrier Reef may spring to mind. You probably wouldn’t think of a baguette.
But France has nominated its staple bread stick for inclusion on the UN intangible cultural heritage register.
Declining Revenues Show Pandemic’s Devastating Impact On NYC Restaurant Industry
A new survey by the NYC Hospitality Alliance finds 75% of more than 400 restaurants and bars reported their 2020 revenues fell by more than half compared to 2019. Another 21% of businesses said their revenues were down by 26-50%.
Extreme weather is wreaking havoc on olive oil production
From freezing temperatures to fruit-fly infestations, farmers and producers are dealing with regular interruptions to the “delicate dance” of producing olive oil
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There is only one producer of this pricey delicacy, and the competition for it is getting fierce.