Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Osterie d'Italia by Slow Food


Craig Camp
 Share

Recommended Posts

Jim, apparently you have been to Norcia! I should have added that Norcia is also the pork capital of Italy, with more salumere per capita than any other place on earth, and also known for the skill of its butchers, such that any butcher elsewhere in Italy who thinks he has made the grade may hang a sign declaring himself to be a "norcino".

Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is true in both countries that, due to the extraordinary quality of the raw ingredients, chefs that have not been professionally trained can produce brilliant and innovative cuisine.

I think this is a false statement. Untrained chefs cannot produce brilliant cuisine just because of raw ingredients. Culinary technique is more then just presentation. It's about balance and harmony and manipulating textures to make things both luxurious and to intensify their natural flavors. If you don't appreciate that type of approach, that's one thing. But you can't deny what it is just because you don't appreciate it.

I find white truffles interesting once. I mean that literally. When I go to the Piemonte for some truffle eating, after one day of it I've had enough. Maybe two days. Otherwise I like them just fine. Why are they outre with the Slow Food crowd these days?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steve-Do you actually read my posts? Forgetting about laws of averages, can you not believe that the proverbial chimpanzee might not stumble upon balance, harmony and texture, given enough time and the right ingredients? Absurd though that may be, it is been my experience that technique is essential, but can be had any number of different ways, and technique remains only the point of departure, not an end in itself. Beyond that, the individual must understand the ingredients, the interaction of ingredients (both positive and negative) and how best to maximize their flavors. There are those chefs who are whizzes with knives or pastry bags, but spend their lives in sous chef purgatory because they have no sense of the possibilities of ingredients. I am not aware that any group is down on white truffles, by the way. I just needed to test how jaded you are!

Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Untrained chefs cannot produce brilliant cuisine just because of raw ingredients. Culinary technique is more then just presentation. It's about balance and harmony and manipulating textures to make things both luxurious and to intensify their natural flavors. If you don't appreciate that type of approach, that's one thing. But you can't deny what it is just because you don't appreciate it.

The top modern Italian chefs (just like modern Italian wine makers) are not only seriously trained, but are well schooled in what is happening around the world. Sometimes they are not even Italian. They certainly know what is happening in their neighbor, France. After all they can drive there. I agree that it is about balance and harmony and argue strongly that these things exist in kitchens all around Italy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Suvir, thanks, and I'll try to post some of my home cooking finds for your benefit from time to time!

Bill what you are posting is plenty fine. All else you choose to post will be an on going bonus. Thanks very much. I am enjoying your posts.

And thanks for the truffle secret. That comment about more truffles being consumed than produced is marvellous. It is exactly the kind of hyperbole that drives so many kitchens and consumers. It is so very sad, and yet so very true.

Thanks for pointing it out so beautifully. And thanks also for the lead about the not so well known, but locally more well respected perhaps and better known alternative.

Little secrets like these make posts magical. I thank you for what you have already done... and cannnot wait for more. :smile:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Forgetting about laws of averages, can you not believe that the proverbial chimpanzee might not stumble upon balance, harmony and texture, given enough time and the right ingredients?  Absurd though that may be, it is been my experience that technique is essential, but can be had any number of different ways, and technique remains only the point of departure, not an end in itself.  Beyond that, the individual must understand the ingredients, the interaction of ingredients (both positive and negative) and how best to maximize their flavors.  There are those chefs who are whizzes with knives or pastry bags, but spend their lives in sous chef purgatory because they have no sense of the possibilities of ingredients.  I am not aware that any group is down on white truffles, by the way.

Very well said. :smile:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree that it is about balance and harmony and argue strongly that these things exist in kitchens all around Italy.

I agree as well. In fact people who love food and cook with that love for their ingredients, hardly need to be trained to understand balance, for most, it comes as naturally as it is for a child to learn how to walk.

This balance and harmony exist in kitchens around the world. And Italy has a long tradition of balance and harmony, it can be found in its textiles, its art and music, why would it then be foreign in its kitchens?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree that it is about balance and harmony and argue strongly that these things exist in kitchens all around Italy.

I agree as well. In fact people who love food and cook with that love for their ingredients, hardly need to be trained to understand balance, for most, it comes as naturally as it is for a child to learn how to walk.

This balance and harmony exist in kitchens around the world. And Italy has a long tradition of balance and harmony, it can be found in its textiles, its art and music, why would it then be foreign in its kitchens?

Bravo. Eloquently and beautifully stated.

Balance and harmony are not the property of any one culture. Just because you don't understand it does not mean that it does not exist.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The relative cleanliness of Swiss versus Italian streets in a border town somehow doesn't seem to advance the cuisine ball very far.

Actually I have a personal interest here. I used to live about 20 mins drive from Chiasso (or Ponte Chiasso as the Italian side is known) and went there at least once a week (to my Swiss bank!).

Yes Steve, you are so right. Chiasso is organized and very clean. Ponte Chiasso is typically Italian, a place with warmth, friendlines and (oh my God!) a little bit of dirt.

There's a small bar on the Swiss side that I used to relax at just for the change. From there, if you could throw hard enough, you could throw your napkin into Italy - I'm not kidding here! Yet, and this is the point, the pasta in Chiasso was demonstrably poorer than Ponte Chiasso. But your right Steve, it was very clean and organized.

Bottom line here is this: Steve is in no way qualified to say anything about Italian cooking for one simple reason:

he doesn't like pasta.

Just for your information Steve, pasta IS Italian cuisine. It's the basis from which wonderful antipasti, riso, osso buco, saltimbocca, panna cotta et al is drawn on. Not liking pasta is the same as not liking curry in Indian food, not liking rice in Chinese food, not liking garlic in Spanish food - need I go on. If you don't like pasta that's fine but please Steve, read your many books, do your calculations as to which restaurants are considerred best but do not refer to Italian cuisine because your basic arguments is flawed.......i.e. you don't like pasta. End of story.

BTW Bill that was a wonderful diatribe on Italian food! And extremely accurate too. I particuarly liked this:

We agree on this-Italy rarely does that for you. Italy requires that you exhibit some fundamental intellectual curiosity about things Italian, good and bad. Italians unfailingly love foreigners who love what they love, and they will go to any length to show that type of person the very best of what Italy offers. I know-I am one of those fortunate few who has learned to set aside most of my American bias and to go with the Italian flow. They do not consider it a virtue to speak English, but they will do everything in their power to help you communicate in Italian if they sense your love and respect for their language. They could give a rat's ass that you are inconvenienced by their inability to speak English. They have little interest in things American, for the simple reason that there are few things in America that do not have better counterparts in Italy. (How about some Kraft Parmesan, domestic prosciutto or California Sangiovese?) In point of fact, when the Italians bend themselves to the American culinary will, as they do in Rome, Florence and Venice, it all but destroys the local heritage.

And it IS scary your comments on the Americanisation of France especially when you consider that the largest McDonald's in Western Europe is in.........Rome!

IMHO

Steve, youre humble??? :laugh:

Edited by peterpumkino (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Peter: NOW you show up, while being AWOL during the heat of battle! I had to take the fight to Steve, aided only by Craig, who, although he seems to be a nice guy, insists on abiding by the Geneva Convention of polite posting! Listen, having read the earlier posts between you and Steve, I am going to suggest a plea bargain on the Chiasso thing: you should cop to littering once a week in Ponte Chiasso, so that Steve can jump to the conclusion that you, and you alone, are responsible for the deplorable condition of Ponte Chiasso streets! We can then move on to the great issues of our time, such as the role the coalition is likely to let the French play in the reconstruction of the culinary traditions of post-war Iraq! Thanks for weighing in! (Suvir-more on lavender and other Piemontese eats later! I am going to try to get the lavender creme brulee recipe from Flipot this summer, but it is probably easier than we think. I'm guessing it starts with a lavender-infused simple syrup, but it would be nice to know the proportions.)

Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

you should cop to littering once a week in Ponte Chiasso, so that Steve can jump to the conclusion that you, and you alone, are responsible for the deplorable condition of Ponte Chiasso streets!

Sorry Steve about the deplorable state of the streets in Ponte Chiasso - it's all due to me throwing napkins from Chiasso into PC to prove that whilst I am a few yards from Italy I am miles and miles away from RealItalian® food.

I am going to try to get the lavender creme brulee recipe from Flipot this summer, but it is probably easier than we think.

I would think so as 99% of restaurants in Italy do it so well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've said before, Bill, it's a tag-team event going up against Steve's views on Italian cuisine. Everyone needs a breather once in a while.

Italian food doesn't even rise to the level of cuisine. It's just cooking.

Forgetting about laws of averages, can you not believe that the proverbial chimpanzee might not stumble upon balance, harmony and texture, given enough time and the right ingredients? Absurd though that may be, it is been my experience that technique is essential, but can be had any number of different ways, and technique remains only the point of departure, not an end in itself.

I haven't said it's an end in itself. I said that better technique produces better cuisine. It's true for every culture and every style of cooking. Now there's a statement I'd like to see you refute. It just so happens that the French have an entire level of technique that the Italians can't seem to figure out how to create. And that's where it begins and ends.

Saying that the technique doesn't matter is like saying that ballerinas being on their toes doesn't matter. It's a false statement. That is why one goes to the ballet in the first place. To say it doesn't matter is a telling statement about the speaker, in that it demonstrates that they don't understand what the ballet is about. And your statements about French cuisine are the same. You can't possibly understand haute cuisine and make the statements you are making.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Italian food doesn't even rise to the level of cuisine. It's just cooking.

This is, of course, a statement of such breathtaking ignorance that one can, only draw the conclusion that it was made for effect and to elicit a response, as no one with even a passing acquaintance with Italian cuisine would make such a remark in earnest. Not rising to the bait, Steve.

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

it is been my experience that technique is essential, but can be had any number of different ways, and technique remains only the point of departure, not an end in itself.

I haven't said it's an end in itself. I said that better technique produces better cuisine. It's true for every culture and every style of cooking. Now there's a statement I'd like to see you refute. It just so happens that the French have an entire level of technique that the Italians can't seem to figure out how to create. And that's where it begins and ends.

Saying that the technique doesn't matter is like saying that ballerinas being on their toes doesn't matter. It's a false statement. That is why one goes to the ballet in the first place. To say it doesn't matter is a telling statement about the speaker, in that it demonstrates that they don't understand what the ballet is about. And your statements about French cuisine are the same. You can't possibly understand haute cuisine and make the statements you are making.

Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On the other hand, in over 5,500 posts, what we have from you is the bald, unsupported assertion that chefs in Italy lack technique (or, more to your point, aren't clever enough to master French technique)

You keep striking out Bill. I haven't said anything of the sort. What I have said (and I must have said it twenty times over various threads) is that Italian chefs have been a failure at creating a level of technique in their own cuisine that is the equivelent of haute cuisine. I also haven't said that it isn't changing for the better. I have just given a historical perspective for what has happened with their high cuisine (they didn't really have one) over the last 25 years. Go back and read the posts and call me when your done.

Michelin awarding stars does not impress me. I've been to Ai Sorisso which I believe is one of the three star restaurants. To me, that's two stars at best and what they do there isn't interesting enough for me to want to go back. And there are loads of French restaurants with stars that are boring. In fact I am as harsh on the French as anyone else.

I await your examples. It's always best to talk about food using real life dishes and situations. Vedat did that in his post about eating in Northen Italy. He convinced me that there is a there, there. You haven't convinced me about diddlysquat other then that your hyperbole should be left amidst the Barbaresco vineyards like a pile of must.

Robert S. - An arguably true statement. For something to be a cuisine, chefs have to do more then lightly cook the ingredients in order to coax the natural juices out of them. My Tante Gussie could do that if she had a commercial kitchen and she could get her burners on a simmer setting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Robert S. - An arguably true statement. For something to be a cuisine, chefs have to do more then lightly cook the ingredients in order to coax  the natural juices out of them. My Tante Gussie could do that if she had a commercial kitchen and she could get her burners on a simmer setting.

One can argue anything. In this case, you are so far from a reasonable argument that you aren't even in the game, not even in class a ball, not even in the winter leagues, not even allowed on the field. I know you're smarter than that, so I can only conclude that you are doing this for then hell of it. Zai gesuhnt.

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Michelin awarding stars does not impress me.

I find this hard to believe. In the posts above you defend Michelin like you wrote the guide. You also use constant references throughout your posts to Michelin stars.

Judging Italian cuisine when you hate pasta is like judging French cuisine if you hate sauces.

The fact remains that your biggest gripe about Italian food is that it is in Italy. A place you consider disorganized and dirty.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why? Show me why I'm not right? Show me Italian cuisine that is more then choosing top quality ingredients and not screwing them up? Show me an Italian chef who creates a new flavor through his cuisine?

I'm waiting.

Show me anyone who creates a totally new flavor. Are you referring to someone discovering a new foodstuff? Perhaps some genetically engineered new product?

I'm waiting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually I like Italian food. And I happen to know lots about it. But I just won't be browbeaten by Italophiles into admitting it is more then it is. But if you show me an example of innovative Italian food that is succesful as modern cuisine, I'd be the first person to sign up for it. As for Italy being unclean, it's got a gritty edge to it that isn't present in other countries like France, Switzerland, Germany, Holland etc. When I was in Rome last (spring 2000), they had just cleaned it up for the Jubilee and the place looked beautiful. It should be like that all of the time. As for being disorganized, they need to hire some good efficiency experts there.

As for Michelin stars, I am not saying it is a meaningless piece of info, it's just not determinitive by itself. Unless a place has two or more stars. That's a big statement.

Show me anyone who creates a totally new flavor. Are you referring to someone discovering a new foodstuff? Perhaps some genetically engineered new product?

Read Ed Shoenfeld's Q & A. It's all in there. He said it. Not me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...