Steven Poole English journalist for the prestigious newspaper The Guardian, wrote a very interesting article, brought to the attention of Italian readers by an equally prestigious weekly International with the title the dictatorship of meatballs, on the theme of the new secular religion of eating well. The article introduces all the lesser known aspects of globalized gastronomy and the richness of the language adopted in the world to talk about food and cooking.
The foodies (food in English stands for food) are the people interested in food and foodista the adepts of foodism or a way of "seeing the world through the greasy lenses of the militant eater". Davide Paolini columnist for Il Sole 24ore coined and introduced in Italy the term gastronaut with which he headlines a column in the printed and radio paper on the channel of the same publisher. It is a very effective definition to indicate "refined" seekers of good food traveling throughout the boot of Italy, but it does not have the same meaning as a foodista who wants to ruthlessly indicate who is a "good eating activist" how to exercise a profession or militancy. The foodista knows all the gastronomic bibles and considers gastronomy an art like painting and theater culinary art that found its gospel in a treatise published in English in six volumes with the disturbing title "modernist cousine".
Alain Robbe-Grillet, famous French writer and director, told of a brilliant conversation he had with Roland Barthes, essayist and anthropologist of food, which would have explained how, according to him, “people like to consume the menu which is not only a concrete poem but also a tempting promise of sense satisfaction ”.
So I learned about the original idea of offering food editors an edible menu. To avoid becoming nihilistic gastromaniacs, Steven Poole suggests worrying more and better about what we put in our head rather than what we put in our mouths a suggestion to treasure at this time of serious financial difficulty for all Italians.
Is the foodista a sinful glutton? The search for and the practice of excellent gastronomy is not necessarily a sin but a commitment of the intellect.
To become a food expert you need to know how to enjoy the taste of food that requires maturity and education, the child is born and lives his first years without awareness of the taste he has dealt with elementary-flavored foods such as dessert, milk, baby food, creams. If you offer him new food, he instinctively refuses it, so mum and dad have to exercise all their skills to make you taste. All of us as children have had our waste for foods that when grown up have been chosen as the most welcome. I personally hated the artichoke and cod. Friday was the day of the Catholic fast, meaning no meat, only fish. This fast for my father was a party because he adored cod. So I began to become aware of certain hypocrisies and contradictions that characterized behavior aimed at reconciling religion with common sense. Today my favorite dish is cod cooked in the oven on a bed of artichokes. The foodista has a refined tool in his mouth, equipped with extremely precise sensors to be able to appreciate the taste of food, and is able to send to memory all the perceptions that informed him about the cooking means, the condiments used, the best combinations for the comparison between one food and another as it happens for the choice of wine for which each dish is associated with that white or red wine.
But then if despite being a gluttonous foodista it is not sinful when the search for good food becomes a defect? Just as it happens for sex if compulsory intervention occurs, the foodista is no longer a researcher, a lover of good taste but a maniac, a slave because he enjoys only the things that are proposed to him in that way, or a spoiled child. Not only does he oblige himself but he induces others as the ethylist or the drug addict does. The greedy of this type commits a sin against himself rather than against God, suffering the consequences that will lead him to renounce because he will have become obese, diabetic and so on. The model of correct throat management seems to be embodied by the famous Parodi who is in front of the stove all day, exposing her nose and brain to the foods she prepares and despite this exceptional physical relationship with food, she is lean, indeed very skinny enough to make think that he applies some tricks to keep that breadstick line. Vomit? The purges? The gymnastic? I do not think so. I think Parodi knows how to exercise such a careful control of desire that allows her to taste, taste but not eat. This control gives her that sense of omnipotence or the dynamism and liveliness with which she works in front of the cameras without ever showing signs of fatigue. So what's the difference with anorexia? Also in this case there is exasperated control of desire but combined with the self-imposed ban, the repression of desire as and a painter or musician could deny himself inspiration. Parodi is a tasting professional. After all, she is not the only one because we see many cooks on television who are mainly thin. Especially young people. If you notice, fat cooks are often people of age because they come from a culture of food and from traditions and experiences that are no longer valid today. I believe that those who went hungry during the war and who for long years after the end of the war went to bed in the evening putting bread under their pillows for the better. My friends and I myself did not suffer from hunger but the difficulty of buying food. During the war years, our parents made somersaults to find food. The mother of a dear friend of mine, an important family from Rome, had a few hens in the countryside during the war and used eggs as a bargaining chip for milk or cheese or cigarettes! Four eggs a pack of cigarettes or a piece of cheese! Immediately after the arrival of the Americans it was easier to see the shop windows displaying food. In 1945-46 with my girlfriend they stopped us in front of the butcher or pastry chef's shop window to admire the fillet, sirloins, liver, cream puffs or chocolate cakes, with your mouth watering.
Returning to the topic of gastronomy, someone might wonder if foodism has a cost reserved for wealthy classes. If we refer to restaurants that offer a special menu, the cost is certainly high and even the middle class must be cautious in choosing a restaurant that charges you for a meal of 70-100 euros. Another matter is that of home cooking. The gastronomy that refers to magazines or television programs takes time, a time that housewives who are mothers, employed, in career can not find. However, the difference in the cost of a plate of spaghetti carbonara and that of tomato and basil is the same. The first one must know how to cook it and even in qualified restaurants you can be disappointed, while the second one that simply requires seasoning spaghetti with tomato pulp in a box with a little oil and basil is unlikely to be good and tasty. The same goes for baked sea bream and a quarter of chicken. The first one requires only determination and knowing how to use the oven, while roast chicken cooked at home or purchased in a rotisserie has more or less the same flavor. The baked fish with few flavors and well cooked can give some more satisfaction or feed the soul as well as the body.
How to escape foodism? Enrico Sturani, known as the most important collector of postcards, is an abbreviation in effective permanent service for many years, that is, he washes, irones, cooks, unclutters little, collects postcards cataloging them by themes, an enterprise that would require competence and efficiency of a trained and specialized staff. He does not lose heart and has repeatedly shown that he lives up to the needs proposed by museums and art exhibitions. Often invite friends to dinner never exceeding the number 7 at the table. He is ambitious and rightly claims to offer guests a well prepared dish that satisfies the priority need to be original and also unrepeatable, so that it may not happen that invited to dinner by friends he sees the dish he offered at home trimmed her. Then elegantly escapes the judgment of the competent. What are Sturani's foodista dishes? Two are memorable and difficult to repeat at least to obtain the same quality.
The first very tasty is the Bors' a dish of Russian culture, a soupe of beets, onions, beans, potatoes, boiled meat, enriched with carrots, celery and chili pepper. The intense color of the beets makes the true content of the soupe incomprehensible, which can contain everything and the opposite of everything. So Sturani escapes the skill race of the ladies who know how to cook by offering an incomprehensible original dish that no one intends to prepare at home. When I was in Moscow I tasted the Bors' of trattorias, a banality compared to that cooked by Sturani. I also found the Bors' in Knorr sachets.
The other dish is the roast duck filled with boiled chestnuts. An exceptional single dish, delicious and not easy to prepare.
Sturani is all dedicated to postcards, to publishing books for which cooking is the only playful distraction. All in all, Sturani's foodism is no different from what our ladies or friends who are passionate about cooking grow. It is a domestic foodism that has developed in the circle of our friends without particular exhibitionism and without touching particular quality and excellence points. First courses and dishes prepared with care and sobriety and in our parenting houses. Do we want to give examples? The 10 cm high slice of swordfish stuffed with herbs cooked on a bed of cherry tomatoes buried by other cherry tomatoes covered by a rain of homemade breadcrumbs (Copyright Laura Albanese), or a pasta and beans with shortbread coupolles full of shrimp and others more (Copyright Sibilla Dohm).