Lombardy dresses up

The guest region’s biodiversity enhanced in the lessons given by five bright interpreters

05-03-2017
Giovanni Santini, awarded by Gianni Fava, the Agri

Giovanni Santini, awarded by Gianni Fava, the Agriculture Councillor at Regione Lombardia, early on the opening day of the congress. With them, Paolo Marchi (photo by Brambilla Serrani). Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

Lakes, rivers, mountains, valleys. This is Lombardy, beauty, a region with a richness of biodiversity (and traditions, flavours, products) that has few equals. With a heart beating a thousand beats per hour like Milan, pumping ideas, inspirations, trends, attracting the best talents and drawing the best ingredients and the strong ideas of an ancient land, mixing them with what arrives from the rest of the world. “Milan – proudly says Gianni Fava, regional councillor for agriculture, with pride – is now the world capital of taste. I’m just back from Nairobi where everyone was asking me what we eat over here. But this happens because we haven’t forgotten the value of the countryside, something often considered negligible”.

This is Lombardy, we were saying. This year at Identità Golose it’s dressed up and interprets the unusual role of guest region in its own home, with a focus during the opening of the congress, on Saturday morning. Strange? Hardly so. The journey, the way Paolo Marchi and almost every chef consider it, is mostly one of the mind. “Ideas and techniques must travel, not products. For instance, instead of soy I use a fermented product made with lentils. It’s even tastier”, says Cesare Battisti.

Davide Oldani with Tarsia Trevisan, who presented the morning speakers in the Auditorium hall

Davide Oldani with Tarsia Trevisan, who presented the morning speakers in the Auditorium hall

Lombardy is interpreted from one end of the other by four poets bearing pans: the valley, the city, the hinterland and the mountain. A mosaic of a discreet and complex land, with its naked feet getting dirty in the ground but leaning to look at Europe and the world.

And off to cook! We start with Giovanni Santini of Dal Pescatore in Canneto sull’Oglio. He presents his idea of a journey “back”. By this he means that it’s on the way back home after visiting a new place that you rationalise the experience and feel the call of your land. Giovanni, the son of Antonio and Nadia, of whom he decided basically not to change a thing (“it would have been stupid to do otherwise”), presents a return to the countryside, convinced as he is that “in life you pick what you sew”. Thank goodness. A beautiful dish, a real garden made of carrot petals filled with an aubergine and burrata mousse and then a carpaccio of marinated sea bass, ginger, small seasonal vegetables, diced mango and chips of cabbage and beetroot.

Luca De Santi and, in the background, Cesare Battisti of Ratanà

Luca De Santi and, in the background, Cesare Battisti of Ratanà

Davide Oldani risks a splatter effect (but then he leads a dangerous life) and focuses on three interpretations of blood, a hint to Dario Argento, with whom he shares hairstyle and thin physique. The chef from D’O in Cornaredo, since eight months ago in the new location which he designed as a house (kitchen+dinette+lounge+veranda+studio), presents a transfusion of destructured (help!) Cassoeula on a destructured (help again!) plate in which the veal blood is whisked into a civet.

Urban Battisti sings “Sì, viaggiare” but in the kitchen of his Ratanà, a trattoria in the city, where “ingredients often come from far away and are of low quality”. What disappoints tourists is that they expect to find authentic local dishes. He takes care of this with a Risotto with turnip tops and sausage from Bra, the manifesto of a simple but not simplistic cuisine. A final appeal to his colleagues: “I find I often seem to eat only the ego of the cook even in restaurants that are not that good. Enough of that”. And praise to him.

Left, Franco Aliberti and Gianni Tarabini, the couple from Campania and Valtellina working at Fiorida in Mantello (Sondrio)

Left, Franco Aliberti and Gianni Tarabini, the couple from Campania and Valtellina working at Fiorida in Mantello (Sondrio)

We close with Valtellina and Franco Aliberti and Gianni Tarabini of La Fiorida, an agritourism in Mantello. Aliberti is from Campania but he’s returned to the countryside, to a farm, destabilising with a touch of folly Tarabini’s rigour typical of Valtellina, who says: “Franco was an enzyme”. The lesson is today-yesterday-tomorrow, with the past connecting the present and future. Three steps, two versions of a potato taroz and a cream puff with local truffle. They were good, they are good, they’ll be excellent.


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