Massimiliano Alajmo’s Vibrazioni: listening to a dessert

The menu at Le Calandre now includes a magnificent sweet windmill in 16 acts. Experiencing ingredients via headphones


Massimiliano Alajmo’s "Vibrazioni - gioco al cioccolato 2018" in a video. It’s a fantastic dessert in 16 acts, now in the menu at Le Calandre in Sarmeola di Rubano (Padua)

A few months ago a marvellous dessert was introduced in the menu at Le Calandre in Rubano (Padua). It’s called Vibrazioni – gioco al cioccolato 2018 and it’s at the end of the Max tasting menu, named after Massimiliano Alajmo, the cook who wrote the rules of the game.

The last 100 seconds in the video give a good explanation of how the game works. They place a dark squared board on the table, with 16 delicious tastings on top. On the left side of the “dish” there’s a pair of headphones and the waiter invites you to wear them.

The first time I tasted a dish while listening to something was a decade or so ago. It was Heston Blumenthal’s The Sound of the Sea: an iPod played the sound of seagulls flying over the cliffs of the Channel, the same birds that in theory had been deprived of the seafood in your plate. Using this trick, the great British chef wanted to pinpoint the synesthetic value of the tasting experience: it was proven that the sound significantly increased the overall appreciation of the tasting. The same happened with Nino Di Costanzo’s Napule é, a dessert that acquired power thanks to the strophes of a popular song by Pino Daniele

The dessert, the way it is served at Le Calandre

The dessert, the way it is served at Le Calandre

Even Vibrazioni creates a synesthetic surplus, but the game is very different: the headphones don’t play the same recording for everyone, but it’s the guests who create the sounds that echo in their ears. Every gesture, with or without cutlery, is amplified thanks to a series of sensors placed on the surface of the plate, following a prototype specifically designed by Alajmo.

So you can listen to the Sage and lemon chocolate rubbing the surface. To the crackling of the Crispy flakes of chocolate with Tonka beans. To the spoon dipping into the Mango and passion fruit spumoni. To the crispiness of the Buckwheat crostolo with gianduia and powdered spices. To the sound made when drawing the White chocolate cremoso with vanilla, apricot and ginger through the straw. To the one made when sucking a Banana gin tonic, to the breaking of the raspberry millefoglie with pistachios and red fruits… and so on for each of the 16 strictly Italian pastries: there are no macarons, no shiny glazes, no perfect coating. Just pure flavour that will have any Italian recall his memories.

A detail of the 16 elements

A detail of the 16 elements

The sound invites to do what Alajmo invited people to do during his lesson at Identità Milano: «Becoming the same with the ingredient. Slow down, recuperate the rhythm of your breathing, become aware of time». All this because, as he says at the end of the video, «There’s no point in running, if what we’re chasing is before our eyes».

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

See also
Alajmo: «La cucina stia lontana dalle farmacie»
Il senso di Alajmo per la materia prima



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