Maddalena Fossati: «Italian cuisine must become a Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity»

The director of La Cucina Italiana presents the project launched with the July issue. Handed to an exceptional guest, Massimo Bottura. It will then be the turn of Oldani, Klugmann, Cracco...

The cover of the July issue of La Cucina Italiana

The cover of the July issue of La Cucina Italiana. The portrait of Massimo Bottura was taken by French artist JR

«A quest. This is a quest. It won’t be easy, everyone told me when I started to share this idea of mine. But I’m not afraid of difficult things. I prefer trying, seeing if we can make it and fail. I don’t want to sit and wait for things to happen by themselves».

This is how a smiling Maddalena Fossati, director of La Cucina Italiana, presents the project launched by the historic magazine: #LaCucinaItalianaGoesToUnesco. In its July issue, La Cucina Italiana presented a new and ambitious communication project to support the universal value of Italian culinary culture: a great choral project to nominate “Italian Cuisine” for Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. On the cover, and as guest editor, Massimo Bottura

«I had been pondering over this idea for a while – Fossati explains – on what I thought was a detachment between home cuisine and the cuisine of the great chefs. As if we had to disown our mother’s and grandmother’s cuisine in favour of a more elegant and exclusive style. Then during the lockdown I interviewed many chefs within a series called "Ora di cena" [Dinner time], asking them what recipes they were making at home, or their secrets. From this experience I believe we got a more intimate and homely vision of cuisine».

And thanks to these ideas too, this idea became a concrete goal: «Fedele Usai [AD of the Condè Nast group] had this beautiful project of handing the direction of one issue of La Cucina Italiana to a chef, something like what Vanity Fair did with Paolo Sorrentino. But you needed a big project for this, we didn’t want it to be something isolated. Hence the idea of nominating Italian cuisine to be acknowledged by Unesco became concrete. I believe this goal should be shared, not just as a magazine, as a brand, but as Italians. Because our cuisine is our identity, and it’s where this identity shows the most. So we launched ourselves into this crazy venture».

Maddalena Fossati Dondero with Massimo Bottura (photo La Cucina Italiana)

Maddalena Fossati Dondero with Massimo Bottura (photo La Cucina Italiana)

A crazy idea that was immediately (almost...) accepted: «We left a meeting, which for us will remain topical, on the 27th of May, with the decision of starting this project. And with the certainty that the first issue of course had to be guest edited by Massimo Bottura, who is now the person who, more than anyone else, represents this Italian identity. So I wrote to him... and he told me I was crazy. That he was about to reopen Osteria FrancescanaFranceschetta and Casa Maria Luigia after the lockdown, between the 1st and 2nd of June: how could I ask him to guest edit an issue of La Cucina Italiana? I didn’t give up. Quite the contrary. I stalked him, to be frank, chased him for a couple of days, until he gave up and accepted».

Having handed the first issue to Bottura, five more will follow, with five different protagonists of our cuisine. A preview straight from Maddalena Fossati: «The next issue will be with Davide Oldani. Then Antonia Klugmann. Then Carlo Cracco. As for the last two… for now I prefer not to reveal them, I will do so later on».

The process will then require the collaboration of other people too: «We will create a committee to support this project and undersign the nomination. For the 90th anniversary of the magazine we have rebuilt the Tasting Committee that characterised the birth of La Cucina Italiana, with eleven famous people with whom we will share our idea of a "Happy Italian Cuisine" and work together to spread the idea: Paolo Marchi, the creator of Identità Golose, is one of them. In this new committee we will invite all the eleven members who have already joined us, and also other people who are important representatives of our country. For sure, we will ask for help too: this is not a project that we want to face alone, we want to create a movement to join forces to support this nomination. And we will need collaboration: when we speak of "togetherness", we don’t just mean others, it’s a spirit that starts from ourselves. We will join forces with other organisations to complete this venture».

In the July issue, the thoughts of two members of the Tasting Committee of La Cucina Italiana: Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and Paolo Marchi

In the July issue, the thoughts of two members of the Tasting Committee of La Cucina ItalianaPatrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and Paolo Marchi

Identità Golose is already in the frontline and our director Paolo Marchi signs, in the July issue of La Cucina Italiana, an article in which he shares his thoughts on this ambitious project. Here are the first paragraphs.

The most commonly eaten cuisine in the world each day? It’s not the Italian one, if anything because countries like China and India have some 2 billion 700 million inhabitants put together. But indeed it’s the most fun, brilliant, requested, varied, generous (not just in terms of portions, a concept often misinterpreted), rich, unpredictable. Not that the cuisines of other areas or countries are less fragmented or varied than ours, but without getting too far from the two huge cuisines mentioned above, when we speak of Italy we speak of a peninsula with 60 million inhabitants. Countries with the same number of inhabitants have a much less varied and rich cuisine. It’s as if Italian cuisine was the expression of hundreds and hundreds of millions of souls, because it’s the result of a rich biodiversity hard to find in every continent. Everyone likes it, it knows how to relate to people who have different roots so much so that we know we are the result of many regional cuisines, if not of smaller territories still. Perhaps it is for this reason that our culinary cultures have been acknowledged as single segments as Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. I think of the art of Neapolitan pizzaiuoli or the Mediterranean Diet which, though first codified in Campania, thus in Italy, embraces a much larger region geographically, culturally, and in terms of peculiarities. It’s time that Italy as a whole is acknowledged, that we, as Italians, overcome our boundaries, egotism, our village pride and go beyond the greatness of each tradition, recipe, development, to create a culinary kaleidoscope that will embrace all those contexts in which, from north to south, from the islands to the Apennines and the Alps, we can all recognise ourselves.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso 


Reviews, recommendations and trends from Italy, signed by all the authors of Identità Golose


Niccolò Vecchia

Journalist, based in Milan. At 8 years old, he received a Springsteen record as a gift, and nothing was the same since. Music and food are his passions. Author and broadcaster at Radio Popolare since 1997, since 2014 he became part of the staff of Identità Golose 
Instagram: @NiccoloVecchia

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