Put cooks and producers at a table together (with a journalist to listen in), and great ideas are sure to flow.
“How do you communicate the wine?”
“We would need a Piero Angela of wine!”
“If I show four red wines on television, they all look the same …”
“…All the same?!”
A dinner that starts like this, can only get better. The idea is of the chef Giuseppe Quaranta, who for one evening brought together the Fattoria Fazzuoli producers, Pastificio Carmignani pasta-makers of Terranuova, Il Poderino farm, and the chefs of the Florentine Cooks Association, for a dinner at La Posta del Poeta.
“I prepare a simple plate of pasta with tomato sauce – said the chef – just to make you feel how good the pasta is when made from real ancient grains”.
And yes, that pasta was magnificent. But it was the sixth course. The sixth.
“…Come on, what fun would it be otherwise?”
Nobody, in fact, complained!
Fresh Carmignani pasta of ancient grains with a pomarola sauce of Calabrian tomatoes with a dash of truffle, “Pomarola and truffle, yes, otherwise it would be too easy. I had to bring some impact …”
And what an impact it was…
“For you who produce pasta in a continuous cycle …”
“First of all we do not work in a continuous cycle, we are artisans! We produce everything by hand, even dosing the water by hand, based on the sensitivity of the pasta! ”
Here, let me make this clear! The pasta we eat is made with a mixture of flours of ancient grains, Sieve, Andriolo and Inallettabile, three varieties of soft wheat typical of Tuscany, abandoned in the first half of the 20th century in favour of more productive varieties.
“Always with this story of the ‘ancient grains’ … We all know that a return to the old varieties of wheat is not sustainable in the long run, then we have to import wheat from Turkey, because these ‘ancient’ grains are too low yield … ”
It was a provocation, which stings the hear of those who have made the cultivation of these grains the work of their life. “It is clear that we can not go back sixty years, so the only solution is an evolution of the species: a few years ago, due to a technical problem with the seeder, we realised that we had sown the Sieve and Andriolo varieties together. So what was the result? A new hybrid that turned out to be perfect for pasta and bread!”
The evolution of pasta … but is it so necessary?
“I would eat pasta even at breakfast (and I do too), but the very gluten-rich wheat that we are now used to eating everywhere gives serious problems to the intestine. There is an explosion of the cases of diabetes and celiac disease among young people, that’s one of its effects.”
Quality is the first order of business. But how do you make people understand that it’s worth spending a little more to eat healthier things?
“… that’s not that different from wine! Choose good wine or bad wine has the same costs!”
“That’s why we need a new Piero Angela, to educate people about quality!”
The discussion swells again…
“But do you know what is the most drunk wine in Italy? The one costs € 1.80 per liter!”
When we are at the fourth bottle of Fazzuoli wine (a pure Pugnitello, an ancient Tuscan vine rediscovered recently) and tucking into the dessert by Quaranta, I begin to understand what a wheat producer, a pasta-maker, an oenologist and a winemaker have in common: the emotion.
Everybody gets excited when they talk about their products.
“If I think that now I’m eating my wheat, one that until recently was in its spike …”
“If I think of how beautiful is the vine that starts flowering, I get emotional.”
And it is true, he is moved.
At the end of the dinner it is clear that the creative stimulus of the conversation has not exhausted itself by the dessert. That was definitely an experiment worth repeating!