Massimo Bottura joins French colleague Yannick Alleno on the stage of Identità di Pasta: the chef from Modena is to open a Refettorio in Paris on the 15th March in the crypt of the church of the Madeleine. The first service will be directed by Alleno and Alain Ducasse (photo Brambilla/Serrani)
What can you expect of a lesson by Massimo Bottura on pasta? Everything except a lesson, of course. Or to put it better, perhaps not a “cooked” lesson on cooking – it was hard both for the chef and the audience to follow all the steps in the many recipes that were presented, offering a tasting to the audience – but a “pondered” lesson on cooking, and a lesson on everything that lies behind the birth and evolution of a dish.
Lots or research and ponderation, sure, but also the capacity of joining curiosity and ideas, attempts and mistakes, so that something new can be born from their meeting. «If you don’t get lost in your daily work, and remain vigil and curious, even mistakes can become an opportunity. Research is a happy stumble». So, on the stage of Identità di Pasta the chef from Modena called almost all of his brigade, recreating in a way the “creative chaos” on which the work at Osteria Francescana and in his many projects – from Franceschetta to Refettorio soon to open in Paris – is based.
Simone prepares Bottura’s take on borlengo – a sort of thin and crispy crêpe made with water and flour, and served with chopped lard, garlic, rosemary and grated cheese, the typical poor food in Modena – made with overcooked pasta, later made crispy (blended, dehydrated and fried). It was born thanks to an exchange of ideas with Davide. Berno, from Rome – but «with an open mind and the gift of humility» says the chef – makes Amatriciana a Modena, in the menu at Franceschetta: «One of the most important lessons I learnt from Massimo, is that you should always be open to new influences, you should keep your eyes wide open when you travel, so as to enrich your dishes with ingredients from new places. This led me to think of Amatriciana in the context of Modena».
Tonnarelli, “forgotten” in the sauce, are partly blended and become a sort of cream served with a crispy element, given by jowl bacon and the remaining tonnarelli – but dried and fried. Yet there are “local” elements too: the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar in which they slowly cook the onion (in the style of Angelo Troiani, with whom Berno worked in the past) and the thickening with Parmigiano or grated cheese. What’s important, points out Bottura, «is that you look at your origins with a critical approach, not with nostalgia».
More space for outside influences in the dishes presented by foreign collaborators, a source of entropy and inspiration. «When you ask a Japanese or a Canadian their take on pasta, you must be ready for the unexpected». Jessica, from Canada, came up with the idea of Spaghetti and meatballs that draws from the idea on which Autumn a New York was based. The latter dish in the menu at Francescana was born after a walk at the market in Union Square as Bottura told us: «I wanted to represent the seasonality and the place where I was at that moment through a dish. It’s like a container that evolves so as to express different seasons and places». In this case, the typical dish of Italian-Americans, which everyone makes differently, given there’s no such thing as an “original” recipe.
Finally, the dessert, the result of Robin’s take on pasta. The French pastry-chef made a sweet pasta that starts from a classic background, creating a crispy wafer – also born from the above mentioned creative stumble – with overcooked pasta and saffron, transformed into a millefoglie, filled with vanilla custard, salted caramel, orange and lemon gel. «This is the team, this is the reality – ends Bottura after having dished out and fed the audience – the rest, is nothing but talk».
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso
a journalist born in Naples now living in Rome, she tries to make her three passions meet: eating, travelling and writing
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