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21-07-2022

Culture, idea, emotion: the genesis (and offering) of "Vieni in Italia con me", Massimo Bottura’s new menu

At Osteria Francescana, an ode to all of Italy, a cultural manifesto to rediscover the flavours carved in our memory. Thoughts and photos

There’s a detail I noticed a few days ago on the motorway between Milan and Florence and back, going north; a tile in the large mosaic of visions, which has been there for a long time and which I’ve noticed only absentmindedly, so that the image never set any root. A detail that knowing what I was about to experience suddenly had a deeper meaning and could find a fertile soil in which to set root, so much so it resounded loudly throughout the weekend.

And we get to the point. On the side of Italian motorways, there are some signs with a brown background reminding us that “You’re in a marvellous country”. Not in a beautiful region, but a beautiful country. It resounds, resounds until it finds its delta and attaches itself to another message that I would write on that same brown sign, right above it. An invitation you cannot resist. So that from now on it should read “Come to Italy with me. Vieni in Italia con me. You’re in a marvellous country”: sent by Massimo Bottura.

This is where the journey that the cook, man, father, child under the kitchen table, inventor of the Refettori, the voice of Italian cuisine in the world has prepared for his guests. A journey to a version of Italy that dilutes its borders and leaves them to dissipate in a land without useless edges that put an obstacle over the best horizons: tomorrow is so much clearer, now that there is only one skin and only one body. There are no more extremes and suburbs, or secluded islands. It’s a version of Italy where it will no longer matter if tortellini were born in Modena or Bologna. What counts is that they exist for everyone, with no distinction. For every Italian, at home or abroad: proud and happy will be those who in front of two sheets of pastry “sewn” together, will no longer be able to tell where one begins and the other ends.

When you say tortellini, you say Tradition. What is it? "What will happen to you? Will you get tired perhaps of living in our memories? Are you perhaps less fascinating than in the past?" Not at all: there will always be space for You, You will always be the womb of every revolution. Because before evolving and revolutionising, you need, first of all, to understand: what was before, and what is now, a hot and feverish blend, the immaterial and material culture not only of gastronomy, but of the world. Music, art, philosophy, science, psychology. The texture of the soil, the customs of the ancestors, the movements of the moon. People, their age, the wisdom of an old man and the free imagination of a child’s eyes.

I’ll confess – I only realise it now – that I did not fully understand the sentence «In my future there will always be the future» that Massimo Bottura said on the 23rd of April, on the stage of Identità Milano 2022. Yet this message, a bit like the one on the signs by the motorway, found its place in my memory, it was safely placed, and soon would appear as an epiphany. The epiphany has arrived, timely; it appeared when the need was most urgent to transform itself into a springboard, high and above, from which to dive into the latest pièce at Osteria Francescana. A deep dive for mind, belly and heart.

The present has already been programmed; it already shows those future projections from a more or less recent past. Contemporaneity is like a limbo, but it’s not a trap: it’s time that can always freshen up our vision and make our eyes more careful, whether we’re looking back or ahead. Hence, in a future in which there will always be future there’s the rich design of starting to grasp something we don’t know, we have not experienced, and yet belong to us. But how can we approach it? How can we attract this design?

Close your eyes and imagine. It’s not crazy, don’t worry; it’s not a question of going mad and delusional to escape what surrounds us and hide within ourselves. It’s rather the door to access the great room "of the tale of the day". The imagination draws directly from that well of images, thoughts, acts, words that belong to what we experience each day and for this reason is more real than we think. But it doesn’t end here because at the exact moment in which we open our eyes again, a veil is removed and our look changes direction. We let the unimaginable in. What we didn’t foresee, what we haven’t met, what the “individual self cannot guess before” [Milan Kundera comes to our help], thoughts and interpretations of the entire menu in which even a macaron will make you lick the bottom of a pan of liver alla veneziana, with a nicely caramelised onion, that is.

Vieni in Italia con me can take your breath away for countless reasons: stratifications of flavours, a journey of vertical discovery, an invitation to avoid shallowness and find our landing point in the most naive and instinctive memory, drinking from a bowl the juice of panzanella, capturing in a spoon of risotto the memory of a day-after parmigiana, when the tomato has thickened in the pan and has absorbed the juices of the oil and the aubergine. The storytelling of a country we already know because it’s the Italy that lives in each one of us, but like any beautiful thing it passes in front of our eyes, often suffocated by the weight of the day. Vieni in Italia con me oozes the primordial flavours of Italian food, the soul of consortiums, the blessed logic of supply chains, the welcoming skills of those who cook while picturing those who will eat. Vieni in Italia con me makes the technique recognisable in each served dish. But this is not what we want to talk about, because even before that, Vieni in Italia con me is a cultural manifesto; it’s the victory of the freedom of creating spontaneously, because culture supports each dish, and each idea is soaked in culture. Without worrying about getting ideas because an idea is such if it comes without the initial intention of finding one.

What wins is naturalness and the strength of ideas which, ductile, fill a void in another void, in the guest. They are ready and served: those who have the desire to listen, listen; those who want to analyse the surface should do so. Those who want to be brought to tears can weep, without shame. Every thought doesn’t fall into the void, every tear melted by the internal torpor of the emotions is the real conquest of this entire menu. So let’s go. Vieni in Italia con me.

 

What follows is our photo gallery of Vieni in Italia con me

The welcome of Vieni in Italia con me is an aperitivo all'italiana. In the order of tasting there’s Babà like a Bloody Mary, dipped in tomato water, including celery and the spicy freshness of horseradish while on the palate the dough melts in its sweetness. On the side Couscous: two disks filled with caponata sauce, prawn and a spicy sweet and sour sauce that warms the palate...

The welcome of Vieni in Italia con me is an aperitivo all'italiana. In the order of tasting there’s Babà like a Bloody Mary, dipped in tomato water, including celery and the spicy freshness of horseradish while on the palate the dough melts in its sweetness. On the side Couscous: two disks filled with caponata sauce, prawn and a spicy sweet and sour sauce that warms the palate...

... and Panzanella, a concentrate to drink, summer on the table. We sip all the ingredients we would find mixed in a large bowl: tomato, onion, oregano, extra virgin olive oil, held together by this Italian dashi, umami Italian style

... and Panzanella, a concentrate to drink, summer on the table. We sip all the ingredients we would find mixed in a large bowl: tomato, onion, oregano, extra virgin olive oil, held together by this Italian dashi, umami Italian style

Panettone, Cotechino e Lentils (also available on the 15th of August)
At Osteria Francescana breaking the rules has never been as "soft". And this is already a perfect opportunity to celebrate because, after all, "Christmas is all year long" so much so that of Christmas they keep the most beloved end-of-meal food: Panettone, Cotechino and Lentils. Under a fragrant, soft dome of classic panettone, there are lentils like candied fruits and cotechino. Here is the exterior...

Panettone, Cotechino e Lentils (also available on the 15th of August)
At Osteria Francescana breaking the rules has never been as "soft". And this is already a perfect opportunity to celebrate because, after all, "Christmas is all year long" so much so that of Christmas they keep the most beloved end-of-meal food: Panettone, Cotechino and Lentils. Under a fragrant, soft dome of classic panettone, there are lentils like candied fruits and cotechino. Here is the exterior...

And here’s the interior

And here’s the interior

Sea salad 
No more gummy octopus, invasive parsley and overcooked potatoes, but a deep sip of sea. Here is the stratification of an abyss that begins from the surface of the earth with disks of trombetta courgettes, then seaweeds, trout roe and down to the sea bottom where parsley mixes with oysters and there’s a broth of mussels and clams and a treasure of black pearls: caviar

Sea salad
No more gummy octopus, invasive parsley and overcooked potatoes, but a deep sip of sea. Here is the stratification of an abyss that begins from the surface of the earth with disks of trombetta courgettes, then seaweeds, trout roe and down to the sea bottom where parsley mixes with oysters and there’s a broth of mussels and clams and a treasure of black pearls: caviar

Water of smoked squacquerone cheese, fresh anchovies, rocket and a crispy piadina: Piadina, rucola, squacquerone & anchovies it’s the seaside of Rimini, a warm piadina in your hands, just folded

Water of smoked squacquerone cheese, fresh anchovies, rocket and a crispy piadina: Piadina, rucola, squacquerone & anchovies it’s the seaside of Rimini, a warm piadina in your hands, just folded

Risotto like an aubergine parmigiana 
Under a camouflage-disk, the history of Italy and a risotto. We’re in Teano, where on the 26th of October 1860, Giuseppe Garibaldi and Vittorio Emanuele II met. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was conquered, Italy was about to be born: the two men shook hands at length. Long live the new king who brings risotto while a bold Garibaldi "from the south", offers a more southerner parmigiana.
But now that Italy is finally united, risotto and parmigiana become one. There’s one thing that is even more delicious than parmigiana: it’s the day-after parmigiana, what is left of this memorable risotto

Risotto like an aubergine parmigiana
Under a camouflage-disk, the history of Italy and a risotto. We’re in Teano, where on the 26th of October 1860, Giuseppe Garibaldi and Vittorio Emanuele II met. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was conquered, Italy was about to be born: the two men shook hands at length. Long live the new king who brings risotto while a bold Garibaldi "from the south", offers a more southerner parmigiana.
But now that Italy is finally united, risotto and parmigiana become one. There’s one thing that is even more delicious than parmigiana: it’s the day-after parmigiana, what is left of this memorable risotto

The heart of Risotto like an aubergine parmigiana

The heart of Risotto like an aubergine parmigiana

In viaggio nel Bel Paese: ravioli like containers of ideas.
«With these, you cover all of Italy», says Massimo Bottura who, with this dish, suggests a journey on board a raviolo: we start in the north. We’re still wrapped in fog, we cannot see everything clearly but in the meantime the burnt leek explodes, fades away in the robiola, more acid and fresh, with touches of toasted creaminess from the Piedmontese hazelnuts. The journey continues: the hearth is on, and in a copper pot chicken or maybe rabbit is cooking with all its aromas and the herbs that are typical of many Italian recipes. Little below, there are tigelle cooking too, which Massimo’s grandmother made together, so as to pair them with the soft meat: the concentrate of juices, the comforting sapidity, a warmer bite. We’re right in the centre. Last stop: welcome to the south. The sun shines strong, and the ravioli is sadly dry! So much genuine humbleness, however, to be found in the endive which makes the dry pasta livelier, supported by the power of the olives and the light sapidity of the anchovies

In viaggio nel Bel Paese: ravioli like containers of ideas.
«With these, you cover all of Italy», says Massimo Bottura who, with this dish, suggests a journey on board a raviolowe start in the north. We’re still wrapped in fog, we cannot see everything clearly but in the meantime the burnt leek explodes, fades away in the robiola, more acid and fresh, with touches of toasted creaminess from the Piedmontese hazelnuts. The journey continues: the hearth is on, and in a copper pot chicken or maybe rabbit is cooking with all its aromas and the herbs that are typical of many Italian recipes. Little below, there are tigelle cooking too, which Massimo’s grandmother made together, so as to pair them with the soft meat: the concentrate of juices, the comforting sapidity, a warmer bite. We’re right in the centre. Last stop: welcome to the south. The sun shines strong, and the ravioli is sadly dry! So much genuine humbleness, however, to be found in the endive which makes the dry pasta livelier, supported by the power of the olives and the light sapidity of the anchovies

Turbot Porchetta 
The fish is wrapped in lard like porchetta, aromatised with herbs; the crust is made from spelt from Casa Maria Luigia cooked in turbot stock and then fried, almost puffed. The dish is finished with an extract of spinach and its leaves which lift the turbot between surf and turf

Turbot Porchetta
The fish is wrapped in lard like porchetta, aromatised with herbs; the crust is made from spelt from Casa Maria Luigia cooked in turbot stock and then fried, almost puffed. The dish is finished with an extract of spinach and its leaves which lift the turbot between surf and turf

Sustainability shouldn’t be a conceited statement, but an innate attitude, deep in the thoughts of those pursuing it. It must be spoken less of, and be more part of the entire concept. It’s with this approach that they present La Fiorentina e i suoi contorni: chargrilled lettuce glazed with the jus from poor cuts of meat, the sincerest part of the animal which once cooked is given new life. It has the juiciest veins of the Tuscan classic, the warmth of the embers, the texture and the strong bite. As the chewing continues, we also find the sides, a rough cream of cannellini and herbs. A juicy example of gastronomic intelligence and vision

Sustainability shouldn’t be a conceited statement, but an innate attitude, deep in the thoughts of those pursuing it. It must be spoken less of, and be more part of the entire concept. It’s with this approach that they present La Fiorentina e i suoi contorni: chargrilled lettuce glazed with the jus from poor cuts of meat, the sincerest part of the animal which once cooked is given new life. It has the juiciest veins of the Tuscan classic, the warmth of the embers, the texture and the strong bite. As the chewing continues, we also find the sides, a rough cream of cannellini and herbs. A juicy example of gastronomic intelligence and vision

What is left of Fiorentina e i suoi contorni (before scooping it up with bread)

What is left of Fiorentina e i suoi contorni (before scooping it up with bread)

Think Green
Think green means reproducing an ecosystem on the plate: the animal and the environment surrounding it. At the beginning of the pandemic Osteria Francescana decided to support local producers, including a farm of white cows from Modena: the latter give their thanks with flowing white gold of kefir and yogurt, which slips on the freshness of the pasture, herbs and chlorophyll, the food of the cows, while regenerated we observe some pleasant changes in temperature

Think Green
Think green means reproducing an ecosystem on the plate: the animal and the environment surrounding it. At the beginning of the pandemic Osteria Francescana decided to support local producers, including a farm of white cows from Modena: the latter give their thanks with flowing white gold of kefir and yogurt, which slips on the freshness of the pasture, herbs and chlorophyll, the food of the cows, while regenerated we observe some pleasant changes in temperature

Quasi uno spaghetto al pomodoro
There’s charm, there’s poetry, there’s the most typical Italian gesture: rolling the spaghetti around the fork and eating them with their sauce. Tomato? Almost: what’s left is the earthy and sweet trace in these red peppers from Piedmont; then there’s the roundness of the black cherries from Modena, the sapidity of the capers from Pantelleria; an almond from Noto grated like Parmigiano and a sinuous flow of thick milk. The mind gets closer to Italian Mediterranean, once again entirely covered. At the base of the dish, the final surprise, a leaf of basil, the finishing touch for all sacred spaghetti

Quasi uno spaghetto al pomodoro
There’s charm, there’s poetry, there’s the most typical Italian gesture: rolling the spaghetti around the fork and eating them with their sauce. Tomato? Almost: what’s left is the earthy and sweet trace in these red peppers from Piedmont; then there’s the roundness of the black cherries from Modena, the sapidity of the capers from Pantelleria; an almond from Noto grated like Parmigiano and a sinuous flow of thick milk. The mind gets closer to Italian Mediterranean, once again entirely covered. At the base of the dish, the final surprise, a leaf of basil, the finishing touch for all sacred spaghetti

It seemed nothing was missing, and instead, her comes Oops! Ho dimenticato la Caprese. A shell that begs to be broken; inside the pieces of tomato are in fact red fruits. The mind is seduced, there is nothing else if not Italy, which invades every free cell, soaked with water of tomato and buffalo milk mozzarella

It seemed nothing was missing, and instead, her comes Oops! Ho dimenticato la Caprese. A shell that begs to be broken; inside the pieces of tomato are in fact red fruits. The mind is seduced, there is nothing else if not Italy, which invades every free cell, soaked with water of tomato and buffalo milk mozzarella

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


Dall'Italia

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

by

Marialuisa Iannuzzi

Born in Irpinia in 1991, she studied Foreign Languages at university, and then International Studies. But then she followed her heart and so her love for hospitality was born in the New Forest (U.K.). Her love for food had always been alive and kicking.  After manging the hospitality at Identità Golose Milano, today she reports on flavours for Identità Golose. Isa travels, and tastes. She keeps her sensations alive through words.

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