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Food trends

10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT PROSECCO

12/03/2021
10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT PROSECCO

Often considered only as a cheaper alternative to Champagne, Prosecco is a sparkling wine that should not be taken for granted. Produced in the North-East of Italy – namely in the regions of Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia – it boasts a long history that dates back to the Ancient Romans.

Not many people know that this enjoyable white wine takes its name from the village of Prosecco, now a suburb of Trieste. The first mention of this place – found in a deed for the rental of four vineyards – dates back to the mid-thirteen century. The name itself has Slovenian origins and it literally means “path through the woods”. Today, the production of Prosecco is extended well beyond this small village but this is where it all began.

Up until 2009, Prosecco was also the common name which indicated the main grape used to produce the wine: this was rectified and officially “renamed” Glera during the creation of the Prosecco DOC Consortium, the association that supervises and protects the production of genuine Prosecco. Native to North East Italy and renowned since Roman times, the Glera is an aromatic, fruity white grape variety that produces long, generous bunches of golden yellow grapes. Prosecco is a blend of at least 85% Glera combined with local and international varieties including Verdiso, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Perera, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir.

The vast majority of Prosecco is carbonated using the Charmat method: also known as the “tank method”, this winemaking process involves a second fermentation in large steel tanks. This fermentation is usually rapid, lasting about one month. Some DOCG Prosecco wines – exclusively produced in the hilly area of Conegliano Valdobbiadene – may be carbonated using the traditional Champenoise method, with the second fermentation occurring in the bottle.

Prosecco has sweet fruit aromas of peach, pear, melon, green apple and honeysuckle: for this reason it is an ideal pairing for savoury food such as Italian cured meats, Parmigiano cheese, fried seafood or spicy Thai dishes. Prosecco should be served ice cold, at a temperature of about 6 °C.

Food trends, Gourmet food

GNOCCHI, A UNIQUE ITALIAN DISH

08/03/2021
GNOCCHI, A UNIQUE ITALIAN DISH

Potatoes, flour and eggs: it only takes a few ingredients to make one of the most loved main courses in Italy, Gnocchi. Shaped like dumplings, their preparation is similar to pasta as they are cooked in boiling water and then served with the preferred sauce.

The information about the origin of their name are rather debatable: some say that the word gnocchi comes from nocca, which means knuckle in Italian; other sources claim that it derives from the ancient Lombard knohha, that used to indicate a wood knot. Although their etymology is still unclear, it is interesting to notice that all the words that are allegedly linked with this delicious preparation always refer to the small, tight, rounded shape that gnocchi still have nowadays.

Their first appearance on our tables dates back to the eighteenth century – well after the Spanish explorers brought potatoes from South America and introduced them to Italian kitchens – but other forms of gnocchi have been known since the Renaissance. In his 1570 cookbook, Bartolomeo Scappi reports a recipe for gnocchi made by pushing through the holes of a cheese grater a dough made by mixing flour, breadcrumbs and water. Eggs were officially introduced a little later to add firmness to the preparation.

Healthy and very much loved as a great alternative to pasta and soups, Gnocchi in Italy are eaten as a primo piatto. Because of their shape and texture, they are perfect when served with thick, creamy sauces like melted Gorgonzola cheese or Pesto Genovese but they are also delicious with a simple dressing of butter, sage and grated Parmigiano. Despite enjoying a rather short cooking time, their preparation may take up to an hour: for this reason, packaged gnocchi are widely available in supermarkets and deli shops, either refrigerated or frozen.

Food trends, Gourmet food

WHERE IS THE BEST PECORINO PRODUCED?

15/02/2021
WHERE IS THE BEST PECORINO PRODUCED?

Among all the Italian cheeses, Parmigiano Reggiano is probably the most famous all over the world. There is another one though which may be less popular abroad but that definitely plays an important role in the cooking routine of many Italians: Pecorino.

Generally speaking, Pecorino is the name given to all Italian cheeses made from ewe’s milk; its name comes from pecora which in Italian means ewe. Specifically, it refers to three main varieties from central Italy and the island of Sardinia which enjoy the DOP* seal: Pecorino Sardo from Sardinia, Pecorino Toscano from Tuscany and Pecorino Romano from Lazio.

Pecorino Sardo DOP is made exclusively in Sardinia from pasteurized Sardinian ewe’s milk. It has a smooth, thick crust that turns brown as it ages; the paste, rather compact, is pearly white but tends to become straw yellow with the ageing process. The cheese wheels – aged for at least sixty days – weigh between seven and nine pounds. Due to the use of lamb rennet in its preparation, Pecorino Sardo has a strong flavour which goes well with fresh vegetables and fruit – especially peaches and pears – and honey (as in the famous Seadas, local deep-fried pastries filled with Pecorino and lemon zest and drizzled with honey). It is also a good appetizer, accompanied by a glass of chilled Sardinian Vermentino wine.

Pecorino Toscano DOP is also made exclusively from ewe’s milk but, unlike Pecorino Sardo, it can be produced outside Tuscany, in specific cheese factories that respect the procedural guidelines dictated by the DOP certification body. The cheese wheels – weighing on average between two and eight pounds – have a yellow crust and a compact, firm paste. Pecorino Toscano is sweet and delicate to the palate when fresh, more intense when it ages. Both these versions are perfect with dried fruit and nuts which – together with a good selection of local cold cuts and a glass of Chianti wine – make the typical Tuscan aperitivo.

Of all the DOP varieties of this cheese though, Pecorino Romano is perhaps the most popular and distinctly Italian. It is also the “oldest”, as its consumption dates back to the ancient Romans who considered it the perfect food for soldiers. Pecorino Romano is now produced in the regions of Lazio and Sardinia and in the Tuscan province of Grosseto by mixing lamb and calf rennet with fresh, whole ewe’s milk that undergoes a strictly-regulated cooking process. The crust is thin and ivory; the paste ranges from white to straw yellow and it is rather compact. Saltier and higher in acidity than the other two, Pecorino Romano is the one that gets aged for a longer time (at least five months) before being sold, thus resulting in an aromatic, slightly piquant table cheese. Often paired with mature red wines, Pecorino Romano gives its best when used grated to complete traditional pasta dishes like Cacio e Pepe, Carbonara and Amatriciana.

*Denominazione di Origine Protetta, literally Protected Designation of Origin.

Food trends, Gourmet food

TYPICAL ITALIAN PASTA SAUCES: PESTO GENOVESE

08/02/2021
TYPICAL ITALIAN PASTA SAUCES: PESTO GENOVESE

There is something about Italy that makes this country so special: it is not just the abundancy of art or the variety of landscapes, it is its food. The beauty of it is that each region has its own recipes and they are all so tasty that a trip to Italy could easily be organized as a culinary tour of the so-called Bel Paese (beautiful country) via its most traditional dishes.

Starting from the North-West of the country, one of the most popular is pasta with Pesto Genovese. Typical of the city of Genoa (Genova, in Italian), from which it takes its name, pesto sauce was first mentioned in its contemporary version by the gastronome Giovanni Battista Ratto in his book “La Cuciniera Genoese” dated 1863. Its origin, though, is still debated: some maintain that Pesto Genovese has a strong link with the agliata, a garlic-based sauce that used to be prepared in the Middle Ages to preserve food once cooked, while others are more inclined to believe in the legend of a friar who created the sauce by chance, just by crushing some basil together with a few, simple ingredients received as an offer by the local community.

Notwithstanding the controversy about its origin, the recipe for Pesto Genovese is now protected by the Consorzio Pesto Genovese that dictates its seven ingredients: Genovese DOP* basil, extra virgin olive oil (possibly the one produced in the Ligurian Riviera), Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino cheese, pine nuts, garlic and salt. As the word pesto comes from pestare, which means to pound, the authentic Pesto Genovese is prepared by using a marble mortar and a wooden pestle to crush and mix all these ingredients in order to obtain a creamy sauce that is then poured uncooked over pasta.

Since Pesto Genovese should ideally be made shortly before it is eaten, these days many people tend to reduce the preparation time by using a food processor when making pesto at home: unfortunately, the steel blades tend to oxidize the basil thus ending up with a very dark green and slightly bitter pesto. Just like for anything that concerns real Italian recipes, even with pesto it is a matter of appreciating the joys of slow food therefore there is no proper substitute for pounding by hand; likewise, since each pasta has its sauce, Pesto Genovese should be served with trofie or trenette. It is also good for adding extra taste to vegetable soups and as a heathy spread in sandwiches.

*Denominazione di Origine Protetta, literally Protected Designation of Origin.

Food trends, Gourmet food

FOCACCIA, A REAL ITALIAN EXCELLENCE

26/01/2021
FOCACCIA, A REAL ITALIAN EXCELLENCE

It is almost impossible to discuss Italian food without mentioning the three Ps that make it so popular all over the world: pasta, pizza and pane (bread). To be fair, there is a fourth element that should be added to this list as it has become more and more popular in recent years: focaccia, a delicious flatbread that looks like pizza but resembles bread in its preparation.

Despite being so up and coming worldwide both as a healthy street food and a posh substitute for bread in top-rated restaurants, the Latin origin of its name (panis focacius literally means bread baked in coals) tells us that focaccia was already well-known among the ancient Romans who used to place it on altars during their religious ceremonies as an offer to their gods. In its contemporary version, focaccia has been around since the 16th century. Legend has it that bakers in Genoa used to make focaccia early in the morning to test the temperature of the wood-fired oven before baking the loaves of bread; the result provided them with such a tasty snack that it soon became saleable to the public. Focaccia rapidly gained such a remarkable fame among the citizens of Genoa that they eventually adopted it as their favourite morning food: even nowadays the typical breakfast in town involves focaccia, which many locals love to dunk in a hot cappuccino.

The original focaccia – about 2 centimetres thick, crispy and oily on the outside and tender inside – is the one produced in Genoa and it is such an important staple in the Italian cuisine that its recipe is protected by Slow Food, the global organization founded in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions. Nowadays each region in Italy has its own variation of focaccia and it is not unusual to find it under different names: pizza bianca is the thin, salty one that can be found in Lazio, especially in and around Rome, while schiacciata or schiaccia indicates the taller, softer version that can be enjoyed in Tuscany; in Apulia there is the Focaccia Barese stuffed with tomatoes while the most popular flatbread in Sicily is the Schiacciata Catanese, with cheese and anchovies. Despite the differences that characterize each one of them, the ingredients always remain the same: water, yeast, extra virgin olive oil, salt and good flour.

Food trends, Gourmet food

RISOTTO: A VERSATILE DISH THAT RIVALS PASTA

14/01/2021
RISOTTO: A VERSATILE DISH THAT RIVALS PASTA

The essence of Italian food is simplicity: a few seasonal ingredients and basic cooking techniques can produce all those delicious dishes that are now famous all over the world. Risotto is one of them. Made by combining rice with a few ingredients of choice, its very first recipe originates from Northern Italy where rice – introduced by the Arabs in the Middle Ages – has been grown since the 14th century. The humidity of that area is ideal for the cultivation of those shorter-grained varieties which, after so many centuries, are still used to prepare a main course that easily rivals pasta.

Versatility is what makes risotto so popular: one could try a different recipe every single day of the year and not run out of new combinations of flavours to experiment. Staple recipes are Risotto alla Milanese (with saffron), Risotto alla Trevigiana (with radicchio), Risotto alla Parmigiana (with Parmigiano cheese) and Risotto ai Funghi (with mushrooms); however, nowadays many chefs in the world are opting for seasonal and local ingredients thus creating new versions of this dish which are just as enjoyable as the classic ones. Whatever the ingredients, the perfect Italian risotto should be all’onda, that is creamy without being runny. Cooking times may vary depending on the type of rice used; still, it always needs to be cooked to a consistency that equals al dente for pasta, with each single grain slightly firm to the bite.

With a significant 52% of the entire European rice production, our country boasts about 200 local varieties to choose from. Up until 2016 they were divided into four categories: comune, semifino, fino and superfino; then in 2017 the Ente Nazionale Risi – the national body that safeguards the quality of the rice produced in Italy – changed this classification and now Italian rice is differentiated according to the grain size. When it comes to making risotto, the best varieties are Arborio and Carnaroli. Despite the simplicity of its preparation, this dish may result time-consuming for those who have a hectic lifestyle: for this reason, the latest trend in the market is fast cooking, ready-to-eat risotto that significantly reduces the cooking time without giving up on quality.

Food trends

UNDERSTANDING SALUMI: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ITALIAN CURED MEATS

21/12/2020
UNDERSTANDING SALUMI: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ITALIAN CURED MEATS

One of the most appreciated starters in Italy is the so-called Antipasto all’Italiana or, more colloquially, Tagliere di Salumi: a platter literally covered with a spectacular selection of cold cuts. Salumi – not to be confused with Salami – is the collective noun that describes all the cured meats produced in Italy. Our gastronomic tradition boasts over 700 varieties of salumi: many of them are available throughout the country, some others are so typical of specific areas of Italy that can only be purchased locally. Given this abundance, it is worth clarifying their main characteristics in order to understand and enjoy them better.

Technically speaking, salumi are cured meats made from a whole cut of an animal, usually a thigh or a shoulder. Pork meat is used to prepare the vast majority of them (prosciutto, pancetta, salame, mortadella and speck, just to name a few) but it is not usual to find salumi produced with beef (bresaola), goose (prosciutto d’oca) and even wild boar (salame di cinghiale).

Salt and – in some cases – herbs, pepper and other natural spices are normally used to produce these delicacies that can be distinguished between salumi crudi (raw) and salumi cotti (cooked): the first category indicates meat cuts that are not heat-treated and only subjected to curing, drying, fermenting and ripening; the second one includes all those meats that undergo a heat treatment after a short curing process to achieve the desired taste.

Salumi are so tasty that they are often used in the preparation of many Italian dishes, either as the main ingredient in simple recipes or to add flavour to more complex ones. Besides their fantastic taste, what makes them so popular is their versatility: they are very good as pasta stuffing or pizza toppings, in a sandwich or in a savoury cake, processed as a mousse or simply sliced and enjoyed with a glass of wine and a loaf of good bread at aperitivo time.

Food trends

PASTA: BOOM CONSUMPTION AND EXPORT INCREASE IN 2020

15/12/2020
PASTA: BOOM CONSUMPTION AND EXPORT INCREASE IN 2020

When it comes to Italian food, two are its undiscussed staples: pasta and pizza. While the latter is best enjoyed in a Pizzeria (pizza restaurant) where it is traditionally cooked in a wood-fired oven, pasta is so easy to prepare at home that an astonishing 63% of Italians eat it on a daily basis: as a result, the average consumption per person in a year is over 23 kilos.

The last World Pasta Day – an event held every year on October 25th, organized by the Unione Italiana Food together with the International Pasta Organization (I.P.O.) – was the occasion to present the results of the research “Pasta consumption during the lockdown” done by DOXA. According to this study, the love for this healthy and easy-to-cook food increased so much during the recent lockdown prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic that pasta has just become the most sought-after comfort food. Surprising as it may seem, the research was conducted not only in Italy but also in France, Germany, UK and in the USA because together these five countries account for more than a third of the pasta consumers in the world.

As one would expect, the average per capita consumption is lower outside Italy (9 kilos per year in the USA, 8 in France and Germany, and 3.5 in the United Kingdom); however, considering that nowadays – in the land of high-protein diets – nine Americans out of ten regularly eat pasta, the scenario is rather interesting for all the professionals involved in the import/export business. It is also worth noticing that the affection for pasta has already reached such a level that diverse consumers across the world are beginning to develop a different taste, at least in terms of shape: whilst the French prefer it corta e liscia (short and smooth), the Britons and the Americans favour the long varieties like, for instance, spaghetti and linguine. The Germans are fond of fresh pasta while the vast majority of the Italians usually opt for the short and ridged types.

Despite these interesting differences, what is common to all the people interviewed is their appreciation of the quality of made in Italy pasta: it is preferred by 72% of Britons, 68% of French, 54% of Germans and 48% of Americans. Recent figures shared by the Unione Italiana Food reveal an extraordinary 40 % increase in the consumption of Italian pasta also in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and Romania; +30% in The Netherlands and Saudi Arabia and a significant +20% in the rapidly growing markets of China and South Korea.

Food trends

THE RECIPES ITALIANS SEARCHED FOR MOST ON GOOGLE IN 2019

14/02/2020

 

As in the past, recipes were one of the most searched-for subjects by Italians on search engines in 2019. Google has published the league table of the most popular and two traditional Italian desserts are jostling for first place on the list of Top Ten. Surprisingly, Neapolitan pastiera, a traditional Easter dessert from Naples, is at number one. It’s a shortcrust pastry pie filled with a mixture of ricotta, candied fruit, sugar, egg and wheat grain boiled in milk.

Another dessert comes second, one of the most well-loved sweets in Italy and abroad: the legendary tiramisù. The recipe people search for is the classic version, but there are a number of variations of this pudding, whose main ingredients are ladyfingers, coffee and mascarpone cheese.

Considered ‘the meat of the poor’ in olden times, lentils are at third place on the league table. This pulse, a symbol of the rebirth of the village of Castelluccio di Norcia in the region of Umbria, is considered to be an ambassador of that region’s cuisine throughout Italy and abroad. Italians didn’t just search for their own specialities: the list of Top Ten recipes most often selected on Google by Italians includes pancakes, a traditional sweet from North America.

The rest of the Top Ten recipes were, in strictly alphabetical order: brasato beef stew, chiacchiere (a traditional carnival-time sweet), Easter Colomba cake, sweet crepes, nocino walnut liqueur and Neapolitan tortano bread.

Food trends

SPIRULINA, THE FOOD OF THE FUTURE, RECCOMMENDED BY FAO

29/01/2020

 

Spirulina algae, or simply Spirulina, is – according to FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – the superfood of the future. It has 3 times the protein content of meat, 45 times the iron content of spinach, 9 times more calcium than milk, and a considerable quantity of vitamins, electrolytes, omega-3, omega-6, and antioxidants.

Spirulina is an exceptional dietary supplement with a very ancient history. Pre-Columbian civilizations, such as the Aztecs who defined it the food of Gods, already consumed it, and it is widely used in Africa, where nutritional emergency is a matter of life or death.

It is a freshwater blue-green algae which grows spontaneously in Central America and in volcanic lakes in Africa, where there are the suitable light, alkalinity, and water temperature conditions. It is also cultivated for commercial purposes, and is especially suitable for vegetarians/vegans and athletes. It has a long list of beneficial properties: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, detoxicant for the liver, favours cell regeneration, and much more. It may be used in the production of nutraceuticals, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals, as well as in zootechnics and agriculture processes. But its prime sector is human nutrition.

In the past few years, important facilities for the production of Spirulina have opened in the southern Italian regions of Campania and Apulia, as well as on the island of Sardinia.

Food trends

HISTORY OF THE CHILI PEPPER, CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS’ GIFT TO EUROPE

15/01/2020

 

As he hunted for pepper and other spices, Christopher Columbus, who had left Palos de la Frontera to “buscar el levante por el poniente” (seek the East by way of the West) in 1492, discovered America and, along with dozens of other products unknown to Europeans, the chili pepper.
When the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria dropped anchor in San Salvador, the Native Americans had known the spicy fruit for at least 7,000 years. Oppositely, chili peppers were still unknown in the Old Continent: people used pepper, a gift of the gods, known since the dawn of time both as a condiment and as a preservative and medicine.
Upon returning from his second journey (in 1493), Columbus brought back chili peppers as a gift to the kings of Spain, who set to achieve considerable income through the sale of this new spice, appreciated by the aristocratic palates. But the monarchs hadn’t considered the popular and democratic nature of the chili plant itself. The ‘Indian pepper’ soon found a place in the old Europe: only 70 years after its arrival in Spain, botanist Andrea Mattioli spoke of it as “a rather common plant”.
In the 1500s there still was disagreement on how to name the fruit. The common denominator was always pepper: ‘Indian pepper’, ‘horned pepper’, ‘Maluku island pepper’. In the 1600s, the pool of names reached a standardization: pepper, bell pepper, chili pepper. In the 1700s, Linnaeus assigned a binomial nomenclature to it: Capiscum annuum. Capiscum derives from the Latin word capsa, meaning ‘box’ (of seeds).

Today there are over 3,000 chili pepper types grown all around the world. Among the most famous (and hottest), there are the cayenne, the habanero, and the red savina. Paprika, delicatesse, and serrano are instead among milder peppers. Chili pepper from Calabria is excellent, and offers its taste and spiciness to ‘nduja, a local cured sausage. The hottest pepper in the world is the Carolina Reaper. It is named after the US state of Carolina, and ‘reaper’ due to its shocking spiciness. According to the Guinness Book of Records it is the strongest pepper in the world in terms of capsaicinoid content – capsaicinoids are the alkaloids giving the food its burning and spicy effect. Given it must be handled with care, chili pepper is good for the health. Doctors and university researchers agree that it prevents cardiovascular diseases, purifies the blood, and is useful to fight obesity, depression, and alcohol addiction; it has decongestant and anti-inflammatory properties, helps digest, and protects the liver. According to Giulio Tarro, a world-class virologist, its antioxidant and immunostimulant vitamin and capsaicin content prevents the formation of tumors.

In Italian cuisine, the ‘peperoncino’ stars in legendary dishes: ‘spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino’ (garlic, olive oil, and chili pepper spaghetti), ‘penne all’arrabbiata’ (with tomato sauce and dried chilies), ‘spaghetti alla puttanesca’ (with tomato sauce, olives, capers, anchovies, and chilies), and ‘pollo alla diavola’ (chicken with spicy tomato sauce).

Food trends

FOOD DELIVERY SERVICES CONQUER ITALY

28/12/2019

 

According to the results of research undertaken by the eCommerce B2C Observatory, set up by the Polytechnic of Milan in partnership with Netcomm, food delivery services were the number one sector on the Italian online market in 2019, worth €566 million.

To be precise, this industry will end 2019 with an estimated growth of approximately 56% compared to 2018; and food delivery services are operating in 93% of Italian cities with over 50,000 residents, 19% more than the figure recorded in 2018.

Before analysing the areas where food delivery services are more widespread, we should first mention a figure that helps us grasp the power of this phenomenon: in 2019, 47% of Italians had access to online food services, i.e. 14% more than the previous year.

Not surprisingly, the Italian city where ordering food online for home delivery is most popular is Milan. Rome comes second, while Turin is in third place.

According to the figures published by the eCommerce B2C Observatory set up by the Polytechnic of Milan and Netcomm, the most popular dishes ordered through food delivery services in 2019 were the following:

1-pizza

2-ice cream

3-hamburgers

4-ramen

5-wok dishes

A fascinating statistic that goes some way to explaining the food delivery boom was published on the SEMrush platform: Internet search engines recorded four times as many searches for ‘eating at home’ than searches for ‘eating out’.

SEMrush also revealed the services that Italians prefer (in descending order): the top food delivery service is Just Eat with an average of 555,000 searches per month, followed by Deliveroo with 142,500, Glovo and Uber Eats.

Food trends

DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE WHITE TRUFFLE

25/11/2019

 

A short existence, a very strong scent, a mysterious form of reproduction: most of the attraction of the Alba white truffle revolves around these three enigmas, which science is attempting to solve. Let alone that this product lives underground (it is a hypogeus fungus) and it turns to a diamond worthy of the stock market due to its price: it is, indeed, an unmissable ingredient in the recipes of numerous Michelin-starred chefs.

A few months ago, the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution has published the results of a research project leading to the full gene mapping of the Tuber magnatum Pico, namely the white truffle of Alba. By reading its DNA, the genetic foundations of the fungus have been revealed.

The white truffle of Alba lives underground for a short period of time – about a month and a half – and despite an infinite number of efforts it cannot be farmed. It requires a certain humidity level, and its quality greatly depends upon the health of the plants it lives a symbiotic relationship with. It has no flowers, nor plants sprouting on its outside: it is deprived of pollination. So how can it scatter its spores and not go extinct? In a few hundred thousand years of history, the truffle has developed its distinguishing scent, which is irresistible to forest animals – snails, wild boars – and dogs, which dig and unearth it. This is how the precious diamond of Alba ends up in our dishes. But before doing so, its spores have flown in every which way. And its story can go on.

The Borsino di Alba (the ‘little Alba stock exchange’) establishes prices for high-quality, wellpreserved samples weighing between 20 and 30 grams (about 0.7-1.0 oz). In 2019, the average value recorded was 350 euros per 100 g (3.5 oz), far from the values recorded in 2012 (500 euros) and 2017 (450 euros). What influences its price is of course demand, along with a crucial variable: climate. Truffle hunting is done at night, with dogs: there is no such thing as a private hunting ground; it all takes place in the woods and spontaneous truffle grounds. It starts in October, and ends in January, with strictly traditional methods. In Piedmont alone, there are 4,000 truffle-hunters (known as trifulau), who must own a license upon having passed a specific exam.

It is hard, if not impossible, to estimate the worth of ‘trufflenomics’ in Italy, while at the international level, its turnover is estimated to be just below 5 billion euros.

Food trends

COMFORT FOOD

28/10/2019

 

So many people speak of food that makes you happy, lifts the spirits, and blows negative thoughts away. But just how can a simple dish alleviate pain and restore harmony? What is the secret behind these formulas for happiness and what lies beneath the concept of comfort food?

Origins and a dash of history
The Oxford English Dictionary claims that the term ‘comfort food’ was first used in 1977, when a Washington Post article used it to describe a traditional South American dish: prawns with corn porridge. Historian Lynne Oliver, on the other hand, is sure that the expression was used even before, and more specifically in 1965, also in the United States.
Regardless of the specific date and occasion on which the expression was coined, the word has – ever since its origins – a quite subjective value, and always related to an individual’s spiritual sphere. Comfort food is linked to happy or nostalgic memories: there is only a handful of other things able to project us in the lives of others, through private accounts related to childhood or our loved ones. This is why the choice of food varies completely from person to person, region to region, country to country. Whichever our personal history is, our food of happiness conceals an intimate selection, based upon many different, and at times surprising, motivations and reasonings.

10 comfort foods from around the world

France: onion soup
Japan: ramen
Great Britain: fish & chips
Italy: lasagne
Germany: bratwurst
Morocco: shakshuka
Hungary: goulash
Ukraine: borscht
Greece: moussaka
Cuba: picadillo