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Articles by: Dino Borri

  • Three different kinds of wheat and rye flour.
    Dining in & out

    Flour: The Very Secret of the Mediterranean Diet

    The flour at our disposal may come from wheat (grain), corn, barley, spelt, rice, oats, rye, millet, Khorasan wheat, buckwheat, and chestnuts.

    Bread and Pasta

    When making bread and pasta, the most important grain is wheat, from which we make white flour. White flour comes from soft wheat, or Triticum Vulgare, and bran, which comes from durum wheat, or Triticum durum.

    In Italy, wheat is separated into groups based on the quality of the grain (coarse, fine, etc.) and labeled type 00, type 0, type 1, type 2 and whole wheat. Understanding the difference between grano tenero (soft wheat) and grano duro (durum wheat) is important, since not all kinds of wheat produce the same quality of bread, pasta, sweets or cookies. Products made with one type of flour or another differ widely in a variety of ways, from their color to their protein count to their ability to absorb water to their granulometry. Granulometry measures the size of the grain particles. The greater the particles, the better the pasta. The smaller the particles, the better the bread and products made with yeast.

    On the other hand, how well wheat absorbs water depends on the amount of crushed starch. Soft wheat and durum wheat belong to two separate species that form part of the Gramineae family.

    So Wheat

    Soft wheat flour, so called because the grain is easily broken, has a vague, powdery appearance and small, white granules with rounded corners. Dough made from soft wheat flour is very supple, moderately firm, and usually used for baking bread and products made with yeast, like sweets (cakes, cookies, brioches) or pizza, as well as fresh pasta and egg pasta.

    Flour made from soft wheat contains less protein and absorbs less water than flour made from durum wheat.

    Durum Wheat

    Durum wheat or durum semolina is made with durum that has been ground only once – a large, amber-yellow grain with sharp corners that is difficult to break. The amber- yellow color – affected by the variety of grain – spreads to products made from durum wheat, producing darker foodstuffs than those made from soft wheat flour. Dough produced with durum is tougher and less supple than that produced with soft wheat, making durum better for baking bread (in fact it is used to make homemade bread) than pasta.

    With twice-ground semolina, you get durum flour made with less accentuated grains, which is also used to produce bread and pasta. Durum flour contains more protein and gluten than soft wheat flour, absorbs more water, and more effectively breaks down starch. Products made with durum flour keep longer, have a lower glycemic index and contain carotenoids, organic pigments that can eliminate free radicals (antioxidants). Commercial durum wheat semolina used to prepare (sweet and savory) semolina, both pies and desserts, comes from a different type of milling process that produces a coarse grain. Another bit of durum wheat trivia: Durum flour was originally produced in Southern Italy. Nowadays, production has grown to be nation-wide, and Italian law makes the use of durum flour mandatory for producers of pasta. 

  • Pietro Longhi, La polenta
    Dining in & out

    Digging into (the History of) Polenta

    Polenta is a foodstuff with rustic origins. It is made by mixing cornmeal (which explains why polenta is often called yellow flour) with water and salt in a large pot called a paiolo in Italian or on a cutting board where, if it is sufficiently consistent, it is cut into slices.

    The Native Americans

    Polenta as we know it dates all the way back to the age of Columbus, when the European explorer returned from America bearing corn, or maize, today widely used for purposes other than nutrition. Prior to that, the plant was unknown in Europe. Columbus informed Europeans that the Native Americans made the dish by adding water to cornmeal and serving it with various sauces, cheeses and fresh meat. Over time Europeans discovered that the plant was easy to grow, especially in Southern Italy. Furthermore, cultivating it was cheap. That explains why it was consumed by the lowest classes, i.e., by farmers and peasants.

    A “Poor Man’s Dish” in Northern Italy
    Polenta can be found throughout Lombardy, Veneto and Friuli, where it is served as a side dish or in place of bread. It can also be served as a main course, in which case it is dressed with thick sauces, game, sausage, milk and codfish, or fried and sliced, or rolled into gnocchi. Polenta shouldn’t be seen as deadly for dieting: you can eat your fill without consuming too many calories. The real problem is that it is often served with heavy sauces and condiments.

    Types of Cornmeal for Polenta
    There are several kinds of flours with a wide variety of grain-sizes. What kind you use significantly affects the final dish. Cornmeal is most often associated with polenta but can also be used for preparing pies, crepes, pasta and sweets. The various kinds are as follows:

    BRAMATA is the classic rustic corn flour. It is hard and coarsely ground. Ideal for polenta. You can tell Bramata apart simply by running your fingers over it. It is the most common type of polenta. Its characteristic yellow color comes from carotenoids.

    FIORETTO, though finer than Bramata, is also used for making polenta. It is smoother and less coarse than the latter, and therefore better suited for making side dishes.

    FUMETTO is the finest confectionary corn flour produced with innovative milling machinery. Because it is easy to knead, it is used to make pasta, cake, cookies and other traditional products.

    INTEGRALE is cornmeal that has not been sifted but simply underwent an initial milling. Integrale contains all of the outer parts of the grain, i.e., the bran. 

  • Dining in & out

    The Most Famous Derby. Panettone vs. Pandoro

    Many people think pandoro is just panettone with out candied fruit and raisins. To correct that misconception, here’s a little history about the two sweets eaten year round in the US.  “Panetun” (in dialect) comes from Lombardy, Milan to be exact.

    The word probably derives from the word “panetto,” a small loaf cake, with the augmentative suffix “-one” to refer to its large size. It can be traced back to a cured bread made with yeast, honey, dried fruit and pumpkin in 200 AD. In 600 AD it looked like a crude form of focaccia made with corn flour and grapes. In 800 AD panettone referred to cornbread made with eggs, sugar and raisins. (The latter ingredient was believed to bring wealth.)

    According to one legend, at the end of 400 AD Ughetto, son of the condottiere Giacometto degli Atellani, fell in love with a beautiful young woman named Adalgisa. To be near his beloved, he became a baker, like her father Toni, and created a rich bread made with butter, eggs, sugar, citron and candied oranges. The sweet fruit of his love was an unprecedented hit, and people from every neighborhood came to taste “Pan del Ton.” According to another legend, on Christmas Eve, at the court of Duke Ludovico, a cook was preparing a special sweet. Unfortunately, the cupola-shaped raisin bread got burned in the oven, and the cook became apoplectic. As he cursed and howled, a servant named Toni spoke up, advising the cook to serve the sweet all the same and say the crust was special. When guests saw the unusual bread, they applauded raucously. And when they took their first bite, a chorus of praise erupted, and “Pan del Toni” was born.
     

    The panettone we know today dates back to the early twentieth century, when Angelo Motta gave it its tall fluted shape, literally heightening its importance.
     
    The name panettone was copyrighted in July 2005 and applies to cured, confectionary soft dough, which is acidic. The basic ingredients are flour, sugar, egg yolk, butter, raisin, zest  and candied citrus fruit. Pandoro is a Veronese specialty. Delicate, fluffy, it gets its name from its golden yellow color. There are several legends about its origin. The current version of pandoro dates back to the nineteenth century and developed out of “nadalin,” a thirteenth-century sweet from Verona. But its name and distinctive traits go all the way back to the Venetian Republic, where apparently, among the dishes dusted with gold leaf, there was a cupola shaped dessert called “pan de oro.”
     
    Another story links pandoro to the famous French brioche, a dessert served for centuries at the Doge’s Palace. Whatever the actual truth, October 14, 1884 is the official date for pandoro. On that day, Domenico Melegatti patented a sweet fluffy bread shaped like a star by impressionist painter Angelo Dall’Oca Bianca.
     
    The name “pandoro” is also dated July 2005 and applies to a sweet baked good made with a soft acidic dough and shaped like a frustum with an eight-pointed star section. Today, there are various offshoots of the classic panettone and pandoro, but if you’re looking for one made in Italy, check the label to see where the product comes from. Many sold in the US are made in Brazil.
     
     
     

     

  • Culatello di Zibello served at Eataly
    Dining in & out

    Culatello: The King of Cured Meats

    For centuries, Culatello’s fame was celebrated only near its place of origin, the Bassa Parmense plains south of the Po river that extend west to Piacenza and east to Reggio-Emilia. People of the region  knew to appreciate the taste of this very special kind of prosciutto and to safeguard its secrets. The first evidence of Culatello di Parma is in a document dating to 1735 from the Comune of Parma. The document lists prices for pork products, and it’s also the first time “Culatello” is used before it became part of the popular vocabulary.

    Other important accounts of Culatello date back to the 1800s and 1900s in the works of Giuseppe Callegari, a poet from Parma, and in the correspondence between sculptor Renato Brozzi and the celebrated poet Gabriele D’Annunzio. Culatello has long been considered a noble food. Even as a purely local food, Culatello was a luxury, a “rare and exquisite” delicacy that only few could afford to afford to have on their tables, and for a long time, Culatello remained a product for the few, limited in its production and geographic distribution. Only since the 1980s has its fame and consumption spread beyond the borders of the Bassa Parmense.

    Production and Procedure

    Culatello is commonly identified as pork cured in a natural casing usually made from pig’s bladder. It has received the prestigious “Protected designation of origin” recognition (Denominazione d’Origine Protetta, or DOP given to food products whose unique characteristics depend exclusively on the specific techniques and on the area in which the product is made. Every year, more than 60,000 Culatello di Zibello are stamped with the DOP certifying seal and also with the names of the producers that adhere to the Consortium of Culatello di Zibello’s standards. This is a further guarantee of its distinctiveness and authenticity. The alternation between dry and humid periods in the area of production makes Culatello unique--production occurs between November and February, and climate is fundamental for the process. The towns of Busseto, Polesine Parmense, Zibello, Soragna, Roccabianca, San Secondo, Sissa, and Colorno are some of the most notable places for production and aging. The pigs used to produce Culatello must be raised in Emilia Romagna or Lombardy.

    Production Method

    Bundles of fillet or loin muscle from the hind legs of these protected pigs—the best of the same general cuts used for prosciutto-- are cleaned and cut into a pear shape. The meat is salted by hand in a process lasting anywhere from one to six days. Next, the muscle must be refrigerated between 32°F and 41°F, so that it can absorb the salt. It is then put in another room before it is encased intestines and tied up. Aging occurs in specific locations in temperatures between 55°F and 63°F for at least ten months. Finally, the Protected designation of origin “Culatello di Zibello” is applied to the label, and it’s ready for sale. To best preserve the Culatello once it’s opened, spread a small about of olive oil and butter on the part that was cut. Wrap it in a linen cloth that has been steeped in dry white wine, and store it in a cool area, not in the fridge as that would diminish the flavor.

    Taste and Characteristics

    Culatello is a delicate and sweet cured meat with an intense smell. When it is cut, the meat has a uniform red color with white fat between the various muscle bundles. It is an excellent source of energy: 3.5 ounces of Culatello contains approximately 200 calories with 15% fat content. This includes unsaturated fat and an extremely low percentage of cholesterol. It’s digestible and perfect for any age and pleasing to all palates. Culatello has a unique taste and an unmistakable smell. It pairs perfectly and simply with a slice of bread, and makes a great appetizer when served in hand-cut slices and accompanied by Parmigiano-Reggiano or butter. It can also go well with a nice glass of Malvasia, an intense, sparkling wine from Emilia-Romagna that pairs particularly well with long-aged meats. For optimal consumption, this cured meat must be treated and preserved with care. If it has been long aged, it must be first be softened with lukewarm water. Then, spread a small amount of olive oil and butter on the cut surface before wrapping the piece in a cloth that has been steeped in dry white wine. Store in a cool area, but not in the refrigerator, which would compromise its inimitable flavor.

     

  • Dining in & out

    Butter: A Food To Be Eaten Wisely

    A variety of legends prove that butter has ancient origins yet no identifiable place of origin. The best-known legend tells of a North African camel driver who, after a long and bumpy trip, discovers that the milk that he’d placed in his animal-hide bag had turned into a solid mass. Disinclined to toss it, he decides to taste the milk and realizes not only is it good, but it also satisfies his hunger. .

    A Very Ancient Product

    Ancient testaments of the product’s existence don’t end there. A bas-relief in the Archaeological Museum in Baghdad shows that as early as 3000 BC, the Sumerians were making butter with an upright churn. Some documents in the Archaeological Museum in Turin attest to the fact that the Egyptians were familiar with it, though they only ate butter made from sheep and goat’s milk.   

    In Italy it began to be widely used in the early 1400s, so widely that a Neapolitan manuscript at the end of the century records that it was more widely consumed than lard. Butter was late to catch on in France and other European countries, but quickly became a popular and fundamental ingredient in fish and meat sauces. During the Middle Ages, religious authorities declared it a “fatty food” and prohibited its use during “lean” days. The first to resist this edict was Charles V of France (1339-1380). Anne of Brittany had to beg the Pope on behalf of her people for absolution for the sin of gluttony. In 1495, other European countries were granted the same absolution—after paying a significant sum of money.  

    Butter increasingly appears in the recipes of the XVII and XVIII centuries, and in increasingly original ways. In the 1600s, for example, many countries bled cows and mixed the blood with the same animal’s milk and butter. The dish was considered a delicacy.    

    Nevertheless, the food continued to be produced by families up until the turn of the 19th century, with the discovery of applying centrifugal force for skimming milk. That invention, combined with the invention of refrigerators, led to the industrial production of butter.   

    How To Make Butter

    Butter is made from milk through the manufacturing of heavy cream. 5 cups of butter requires roughly 100 cups of milk. 

    There are two methods to make butter: skimming or centrifuging. In the first method, the milk sits for 8-12 hours, during which time the fat of the milk separates from the liquid and rises to the top. Using a centrifuge, on the other hand, is a mechanical operation. The fat globules are separated from the liquid by centrifuging the milk. The resulting creams are pasteurized at a temperature of ~190 degrees Fahrenheit and cooled for 2-4 hours at a temperature of ~50 Fahrenheit. At this point the cream is “mature” and ready to be made into butter by “cold” churning the cream with a machine; in this phase, the fat globules fuse, eliminating any residual water. The butter is carefully washed with cold water and again fused to eliminate any residual liquid and microorganisms in order for it to be conserved longer.   

    The two methods for making butter, along with the organoleptic qualities of the milk used, can give the butter different colors and aromas.

    Butter Does a Body Good

    Short-chain fatty particles in butter are easily digested, quickly absorbed and therefore particularly useful for people who lead active lives or play sports. In short, for those who need a little backup energy.  

    The fats are precious nutrients, but they need to be consumed in moderation. A good nutritional regimen leaves room for all foodstuffs, but it’s important to bear in mind your daily calorie intake. Unfortunately, these days there has been a drastic reduction in energy consumption; cars, televisions and computers have turned us into sedimentary animals and negatively impacted our quality of life. So we have less need for fats. 

    On the other hand, fats are indispensable for a well-balanced diet. The cells in our bodies are protected by membranes that are mostly made up of fats, and our minds and nervous system have particular need of them. Butter is also one of the few sources of vitamin D, which is important for digesting calcium, i.e., for our bones to grow and be healthy. It also contains a significant quantity of liposoluble vitamins like vitamin A, which helps growth, protects the mucus membrane and prevents infection. 

    If properly used, butter can be an important part of a healthy and balanced diet. It is particularly good for children, kids, and athletes. To take the best advantage of its properties, it should be eaten raw or melted over warm food. 

    Fats Make the Difference How Many Butters Are There?

    There are several different types of butter sold on the market. They are primarily distinguished for the quantity of fats they contain.

    - “Classic” butter contains an average of 82-85% of fats.

    - The fat percentage drops to 60-62% in “reduced fat” butter and as low as 39-41% in “low fat” butter.

    - There is also “reduced cholesterol” butter. This product contains an average of 75-80% less cholesterol. 

    * Dino Borri is VP of Purchasing for Eataly USA.

  • Gourmet

    Alla scoperta delle polente

    La Polenta è una vivanda di origine rustica che si prepara con farina di granoturco (detta perciò anche polenta gialla o polenta di farina gialla) in acqua leggermente salata dentro un paiolo in cui viene rimestata continuamente fino alla cottura, in seguito alla quale si rassoda e può quindi essere versata dal paiolo su un tagliere o su un piatto di legno, dove, se sufficientemente consistente, viene tagliata a fette.

    Dagli Indigeni delle Americhe

    Le origini della polenta sono assai antiche, si risale infatti all'epoca di Cristoforo Colombo che, tornando dall'America, portò con sé la pianta del mais, o granturco, oggi largamente usato anche in ambito non alimentare, ma a quell'epoca sconosciuto in Europa. Colombo raccontò che gli Indigeni delle Americhe preparavano una ricetta a base di farina di mais unita all'acqua, abbinata a diverse tipologie di salse, formaggi e carni appena cacciate.

    Con il tempo si capì che la pianta del granturco cresceva facilmente soprattutto nelle zone settentrionali italiane e, insieme a tale facilità, questa coltura richiedeva anche un basso costo: ecco allora che la sua diffusione fu quantomeno non difficile tra le popolazioni più povere, ovvero quelle di allevatori e contadini.

     

    Un piatto povero in Nord Italia

    E' molto diffusa in Lombardia, nel Veneto e nel Friuli, usata come contorno ad altre vivande, o in sostituzione del pan. E' variamente condita per diventare un primo piatto o piatto unico. Allora parliamo di polenta col sugo, polenta con gli uccellini, con salsicce, con il latte, polenta e baccalà, polenta fritta, dopo averla tagliata a fette, gnocchi di polenta.

    La polenta non deve considerarsi un attentato alla nostra dieta: il rapporto tra sazietà e calorie puo' essere equilibrato, il vero problema è che spesso serve per raccogliere gli intingoli, le salse e i condimenti.

     

    Tipi di farina di mais per polenta:

    In base al tipo di macinatura del mais si ottengono farine a diversa granulometria, fattore rilevante per il risultato del prodotto finale. La farina di mais è la protagonista nella produzione della polenta, ma è utilizzata anche per altre preparazioni di sformati, crepes,  pasta, e dolci.

    Ecco qui di seguito le tipologie:

    BRAMATA è la classica farina di mais rustica, dura e macinata a grana grossa. Ideale per la polenta. i granetti della farina sono facilmente distinguibili al tatto anche con le dita, semplicemente toccandola. E’ in assoluto la tipologia più diffusa. Generalmente è di colore giallo a causa dei carotenoidi.

     

    FIORETTO è più fine rispetto alla bramata e il suo utilizzo è comunque quello della polenta. Il risultato è meno grossolano e più vellutato, cosa che la rende adatta, più che come primo piatto, ad essere usata come accompagnamento o contorno.

     

    FUMETTO è la farina più fine, ottenuta dalla lavorazione del mais su innovativi impianti a cilindri. è una farina facile da lavorare. per questo viene utilizzata per fare gli impasti, con cui si andranno a creare pasta, dolci oppure biscotti, oltre che altri prodotti tipici;

     

    INTEGRALE è la farina di mais che non è stata setacciata ma che ha semplicemente subito il primo processo di macinazione. La farina integrale contiente tutte le parti più esterne del chicco, quali la crusca.

     

    TIPI DI POLENTA

    BIANCA si fa con la farina del mais biancoperla (tipica del Polesine e delle zone di Padova, Treviso e dell’entroterra veneziano).

    GIALLA  la classica di mais giallo

    INTEGRALE  ottima quella di Storo (tipica del Trentino).

    SARACENA fatta con il grano saraceno, che non è mais (tipica dell’alta Val Tanaro).

    TARAGNA è preparata con una miscela contenente farina di grano saraceno e farina di mais gialla.

    PRECOTTA  è utilizzata per la polenta istantanea, con cottura rapida 3-5 minuti. La farina per polenta istantanea è precotta tramite cottura al vapore, che distanzia tra loro le strutture del chicco e rende la polenta, messa in acqua, pronta in pochi minuti. La farina di base, in ogni caso, è comunque la farina bramata.

  • Dining in & out: Recipes

    Panettone vs. Pandoro

    Aficionados of Italian Christmas sweets  have always been divided into two camps: lovers of pandoro and lovers of panettone. Many people think pandoro is just panettone with out candied fruit and raisins. To correct that misconception, here’s a little history about the two sweets eaten year round in the US.  “Panetun” (in dialect) comes from Lombardy, Milan to be exact.

    The word probably derives from the word “panetto,” a small loaf cake, with the augmentative suffix “-one” to refer to its large size. It can be traced back to a cured bread made with yeast, honey, dried fruit and pumpkin in 200 AD. In 600 AD it looked like a crude form of focaccia made with corn flour and grapes. In 800 AD panettone referred to cornbread made with eggs, sugar and raisins. (The latter ingredient was believed to bring wealth.)

    According to one legend, at the end of 400 AD Ughetto, son of the condottiere Giacometto degli Atellani, fell in love with a beautiful young woman named Adalgisa. To be near his beloved, he became a baker, like her father Toni, and created a rich bread made with butter, eggs, sugar, citron and candied oranges. The sweet fruit of his love was an unprecedented hit, and people from every neighborhood came to taste “Pan del Ton.” According to another legend, on Christmas Eve, at the court of Duke Ludovico, a cook was preparing a special sweet. Unfortunately, the cupola-shaped raisin bread got burned in the oven, and the cook became apoplectic. As he cursed and howled, a servant named Toni spoke up, advising the cook to serve the sweet all the same and say the crust was special. When guests saw the unusual bread, they applauded raucously. And when they took their first bite, a chorus of praise erupted, and “Pan del Toni” was born.
     

    The panettone we know today dates back to the early twentieth century, when Angelo Motta gave it its tall fluted shape, literally heightening its importance.
     
    The name panettone was copyrighted in July 2005 and applies to cured, confectionary soft dough, which is acidic. The basic ingredients are flour, sugar, egg yolk, butter, raisin, zest  and candied citrus fruit. Pandoro is a Veronese specialty. Delicate, fluffy, it gets its name from its golden yellow color. There are several legends about its origin. The current version of pandoro dates back to the nineteenth century and developed out of “nadalin,” a thirteenth-century sweet from Verona. But its name and distinctive traits go all the way back to the Venetian Republic, where apparently, among the dishes dusted with gold leaf, there was a cupola shaped dessert called “pan de oro.”
     
    Another story links pandoro to the famous French brioche, a dessert served for centuries at the Doge’s Palace. Whatever the actual truth, October 14, 1884 is the official date for pandoro. On that day, Domenico Melegatti patented a sweet fluffy bread shaped like a star by impressionist painter Angelo Dall’Oca Bianca.
     
    The name “pandoro” is also dated July 2005 and applies to a sweet baked good made with a soft acidic dough and shaped like a frustum with an eight-pointed star section. Today, there are various offshoots of the classic panettone and pandoro, but if you’re looking for one made in Italy, check the label to see where the product comes from. Many sold in the US are made in Brazil.
     
     
     

     

  • Facts & Stories

    Food Industry’s Black Gold

    The sturgeon: a mysterious sh, a prehistoric giant – similar to the shark with a long snout and a line of pronounced ridges along its spine and sides. It takes at least 12 years for the female sturgeon to be ready to produce the small dark pearls that appear on our tables as caviar. After the killing, the eggs are separated through a delicate massage carried out with a sieve; they are then divided according to size and salted.

    The salting can take place through an immersion in brine or by using dry salt, in which case the Master Salter personally executes the very delicate art of salting by hand. This is how you make caviar – a word of Turkish origin (“hayvar”) that was already present in recipe books belonging to the courts of the Italian Renaissance.


    A little history (and politics)

    Up until a few decades ago, both the Po and other large Western European rivers permitted a small local production of caviar, but the shing of the sturgeon and the conservation of its eggs has a strong tradition amongst the Cossacks of Ural and Volga.

    From the 18th century, Caviar became a delicacy of the court and aristocracy of Moscow and St Petersburg, when the Cossacks began to give the Tsar the rst caviar harvest of the year in spring. In the 19th century, Russian aristocrats spread the fashion to Paris, making it “à la page” amongst the bourgeoisie who until then had only been curious about this particular delicacy.
     

    In 1953, the Soviet Union, heir to the Tsarist monopoly on the production of caviar, gave Iran their shmongers who operated on the Persian shores of the Caspian Sea – the largest lake in the world. Since then both Russian and Iranian caviar has appeared on world markets, while before that point the caviar trade was an exclusively Russian monopoly.
     

    Following this, the personal pilot of the Shah – an American named Finsun who enjoyed special attention from the Royal Family – managed to obtain exclusive rights to Iranian caviar and even exported the famous eggs to America. At the end of the 70s, however, following the Islamic Revolution and the boycott by US authorities, the relationship of exclusivity with America broke down in favor of Europe and Japan.

    Europeans began to notice the difference in quality between Russian and Iranian caviar, with a particular appreciation for Garabrun caviar (also known as “Asetra Royal”) produced by the Acipenser Persicus sturgeon. Although Russian caviar is still today the most commercialized, it is both softer and stickier due to the use of an already mature egg. Iranian caviar, on the other hand, is more valuable and remains crunchy with consistent and well-de ned grains, that are in fact not spherical but dodecahedral. 

    Italy: the biggest producer in the world

    Today, because of overshing, a large part of the 26 species of sturgeon are considered endangered, and their capture has been regulated since 1988. But caviar can be produced in a sustainable way through farming.

    In Italy, at the end of the 1970s, the idea of farming sturgeons came about. Members of a
    steel mill saw the possibility of using the waters for the cooling of steel, and then with a heat exchanger transferring the surplus heat from the steel- making process to the pure spring waters of Calvisano in the Canove area, near Brescia. This move would create an environment suitable for the farming of certain sh species.

    The idea of farming the white Paci c sturgeon came as a result of the meeting of Gino Ravegnan, a longtime member and today the honorary president of Agroittica Lombarda, with Professor Serge Doroshov, a marine biologist at the University of California--Davis. Now the company produces and farms the biggest variety of caviar in the world. Throughout the 90s the Calvisius Tradition was born, known more commonly as the “black gold of Calvisano”; caviar made with innovative aquaculture techniques through the farming of sturgeons.

    Today the production of caviar – from white, red, Siberian and Adriatic sturgeons – amounts to 25 tons a year, meaning Italy is the biggest producer of caviar in the world, covering 30% of the world’s production alone. Two tons are sold in Italy the rest is exported to Russia (who would have thought!), France, the United States, Germany, England and the United Arab Emirates. 

  • Fatti e Storie

    Per combattere l’Italian sounding parla l'italiano!

    ENGLISH VERSION >>

    Balsamic, parmesan, EVOO, tomato/tomato, muzzarella, boloni, bombonzola e chi più ne ha più ne metta… il problema dell’Italian sounding non è mai stato cosi attuale:

    Il business dell’imitazione, grazie all’utilizzo di nomi o immagini che richiamano l’Italia, presenta cifre davvero stratosferiche, visto che, dati alla mano, a fronte dei 20 miliardi di euro di prodotti alimentari esportati nel 2009 ne sono circolati nel mondo circa 60 relativi a imitazioni di scarsa qualità, vendute ad un prezzo più contenuto. Questo significa che sugli scaffali dei supermercati di tutto il mondo per ogni barattolo di salsa o di pomodoro pelato “autentico”, per ogni pacco di pasta o confezione di olio extravergine nostrani, ne esistono 3 che traggono in inganno i consumatori sfruttando l’immagine, i colori, le marche e le denominazione italiane. In questo caso, però, le proporzioni cambiano se analizziamo le aree geografiche. Il mercato nord americano sviluppa complessivamente 24 miliardi di euro di fatturato “Italian Sounding” a fronte di un export dei prodotti alimentari autentici pari a circa 3 miliardi di euro: significa che solo 1 prodotto alimentare su 8 è veramente italiano.

    Oltre alla contraffazione, ci sono anche i danni di immagine indiretta,  prima tra tutti l’ultimo scandalo di alcune industrie casearie  statunitensi:

    una serie di articoli  pubblicati su siti e giornali degli Usa ha rivelato che il formaggio “Parmesan Cheese” prodotto, distribuito e venduto negli Usa, contiene ingredienti di non provenienza casearia, come la cellulosa di polpa di legno.

    L'analisi iniziata in un caseificio del Pennsylvania nell’inverno del 2012, si è estesa a diversi caseifici degli Stati Uniti, cio’ ha portato alla scoperta della presenza di alte percentuali di cellulosa, per la maggior parte polpa di legno polverizzata e carta,  come ingrediente,  in quattro differenti brands distribuiti nelle maggiori catene retail nazionali. La quantità di cellulosa riscontrata e arrivata all' 8,8%, mentre gli “esperti” tecnologi di un centro di ricerca nel Wisconsin dichiarano che la quantità di cellulosa accettabile varia tra il 2 e il 4%. (la cellulose e’ accettabile come ingredient?)

    Inoltre una professoressa nel dipartimento di nutrizione dell'Università di New York, cercando di placare  i toni della polemica ha affermato che la cellulosa non è necessariamente cancerogena ma, anzi, potrebbe essere salutare, infatti è considerata una fibra ed è presente in lassativi e molte bevande. E anche nel caso specifico del formaggio, essa agisce esattamente come un fibra.

    Va sottolineato che nessuno di questi brands e’ italiano, ma sicuramente il consumatore meno attento, potrebbe essere confuso dal nome che si accosta all’originale.

    La scoperta della pasta di legno nel formaggio è solo l'ultimo scandalo che coinvolge ciò che mangiamo. A novembre, questa volta in Italia, alcune delle aziende proprietarie di marche di olio d'oliva tra i piu’ distribuiti nel mondo sono state accusate di spacciare un olio di bassa qualità solo “vergine”  come "olio extra-vergine", la qualità più alta, oltre a non dichiarare la esatta provenienza del prodotto.

    L’elenco delle categorie che che vengono spacciate come italiane potrebbe non aver fine: si calcola che oltre 60 billions di prodotti vengono venduti come italiani ma non lo sono.

    Tra i piu’ “taroccati” i pomodori, le salse, l’aceto e il vino, per non parlare dei salumi, che solo in alcuni casi sono di provenienza Italiana,   ad esempio solo 3 prosciutti DOP possono essere importati negli Usa: Parma, San Daniele e Toscano. Mentre tutt’ora negli stati Uniti non si possono ancora trovare insaccati (salami, coppe, e salumi macinati stagionati in generale), con provenienza di materia prima italiana e produzione italiana al 100%.

    Dunque il continuo martellamento pubblicitario di prodotti con nomi ITALIANI, ma con provenienza di chissa’ quale Paese, disorientano il consumatore che non sa piu’ cosa sia vero e cosa sia una falsa copia.
     

    Naturalmente non ho una formula magica per risolvere questo problema.

    Ma una delle stategie che bisognerebbe adottare  e’ l’uso corretto  della “lingua” come strumento di provata origine e qualita’ del prodotto, questo tramite una forte educazione alla base di chi sceglie e poi vende o trasforma un prodotto italiano.
     

    Perche questo?

    Prima di tutto perche’ i prodotti certificati  (DOP, IPG DOC DOCG ecc) hanno un nome proprio che ne determina caratteristiche specifiche di qualita’ ed origine, dunque chiamare e di conseguenza comprare un prodotto a denominazione controllata e’ una garanzia di sicurezza.

    Non puo’ esistere un Parmigiano-Reggiano vero e uno falso, perche’ se non si chiama Parmigiano-Reggiano e’ gia' un prodotto falso, e l’originale non puo’ contenere cellulose.

    L’uso corretto dei di una Lingua e l’esatto spelling dei nomi dovrebbero e sono il primo passo per una e un acquisto consapevole ed una corretta alimentazione
     

    QUINDI INIZIAMO A CHIAMARE I PRODOTTI CON IL LORO NOME DI “BATTESIMO”

    Io sono DINO BORRI e Non DAINO BORE, il PARMIGIANO REGGIANO non e’ il parmesan, Il GRANA PADANO non il grena, LA GORGONZOLA non e la Bergonzola e la Mortadella di Bologna non e’ “Boloni”.

    Negozianti importatori e ristoratori, che utilizzano e promuovono l’Italian nel mondo, dovrebbero farsi ambasciatori dell’applicazione di queste semplici basi Gastronomico Culturali, oltre a iniziare una politica vera su cio' che e’ di origine Italiana e cio' che non lo e’, o non lo può essere.

    Credo,  utilizzando le parole di Lucia Pasqualini cara amica  - oltre che ex vice console presso il consolato di New York - : “Preservare la conoscenza della lingua madre è un’esigenza fondamentale per tutti quegli italiani che decidono, per necessità o per scelta, di trasferirsi a vivere all’estero. L’Italia è stato ed è ancora oggi un Paese di emigrazione. 

    La Direzione per gli Italiani all’estero e Politiche Migratorie del Ministero degli Affari Esteri si occupa di assistere i cittadini italiani che risiedono all’estero sotto varie forme. Fra le sue competenze c’è anche la promozione della lingua italiana fra la comunità italiana, ovvero per i figli degli italiani che vivono all’estero e che vogliono mantenere un rapporto con il proprio Paese d’origine.”

    Aggiungo che anche tutti coloro che amano il cibo, amano di conseguenza i prodotti italiani. e Dunque noi italiani per primi dovremmo insegnare ai nostri amici stranieri l’uso corretto dei nomi degli alimenti, Anche attravverso la lingua e il cibo si può far cultura e creare pace e unione.

     

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    Being Italian Versus Sounding Like One

    According to recent data, in 2009, 20 billion euros worth of authentic Italian food products were exported, while roughly 60 billion euros of low-quality imitation products were sold at a discount price around the globe. This means that, for every can of tomato sauce or authentic peeled tomato, for every carton of pasta or bottle of extra virgin olive oil from Italy, there are three products that use bogus Italian images, colors, labels, and names to trick consumers.

    The numbers change, however, if we examine the issue geographically. The North American
    market rakes in 24 billion euros for “Italian Sounding” products, compared to just 3 billion euros it earns for authentic exports. That means that only one out of eight products is actually Italian. 

    Cheese, and other scandals

    Cases of fraudulence aside, our image has suffered indirectly, such as during the latest scandal surrounding a few cheese manufacturers in the U.S., when a series of articles appeared on websites and newspapers revealed that “parmesan” cheese distributed and sold in the U.S. contains non-dairy ingredients such as wood pulp cellulose. 
     

    The study began with a Pennsylvania cheese manufacturer in winter 2012 and has since spread to several American producers, leading to the discovery of high percentages of cellulose content, for the most part consisting of ground wood pulp and paper in four different brands distributed by major national chains. The study found levels of cellulose as high as 8.8%, while experts from a research center in Wisconsin say that an acceptable level is between 2 and 4%. (Is cellulose even acceptable?) 
     

    Trying to quell the polemical tone, one professor from the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University came out saying that cellulose may not necessarily be cancerous; it may actually be healthy. In fact, it’s considered a fiber and is present in laxatives and many other drinks. And in the case of cheese, it acts just like a fiber. Despite the fact that none of these brands is Italian, unsuspecting consumers could easily be confused by the Italian-sounding name. 
     

    The discovery of wood in cheese is only the latest scandal regarding what we eat. In November, a few of the most widely distributed olive oil manufacturers—this time in Italy—were accused not only of failing to label the exact origins of their product but of selling low-quality “virgin” oil as “extra virgin” oil. 
     

    The list of products being hawked as Italian may have no end: estimates suggest that over 60 billion products are sold as Italian even though in actuality they are not Italian.   

    Among the most frequently “forged” products are tomatoes, sauces, vinegar, wine, and cold cuts. Only a few of the latter are from Italy. For example, only three kinds of DOP prosciutto can be imported in the US: Parma, San Daniele and Toscano. Furthermore, in the U.S., you still cannot find cured meats like salami and coppa that are made by Italians with 100% Italian ingredients.  

    Use the language properly

    Continuing to slap Italian names on products that come from God knows what country confuses consumers, who can’t tell up from down. Of course, I don’t have a magic solution to the problem, but one important strategy for proving the origin and quality of a product is to use the language properly, and greater education concerning who chooses to sell Italian products and who abuses them.  
     

    Why? 

    Firstly, because certified products (bearing the label DOP, IPG, DOC, DOCG, etc.) bear names that indicate a particular quality and origin, names that acts as a kind of safeguard. 

    There can’t be a real Parmigiano Reggiano and a fake one, since the very fact that a product is called Parmigiano Reggiano means it isn’t fake. Nor can the original contain cellulose!

    Proper language and correct spelling should be the first indicator for making wise purchases. 

    So let’s start calling products by their god given names.
     

    My name is Dino Borri, not Daino Bore. Parmigiano Reggiano is not ‘parmesan.’ Neither is Grana Padano ‘grena,’ nor gorgonzola ‘bergonzola,’ nor Mortadella di Bologna ‘boloni.’ 

    Retailers, importers and restaurateurs who use and publicize Italian products in the world must act as ambassadors of these cultural/gastronomic basics, and instate a policy of saying what is from Italy and what isn’t. 

    Food, like culture, depends on language

    I believe in the words of my dear friend and ex-vice consul of New York Lucia Pasqualini when she said: “Remaining aware of one’s mother tongue is fundamental for all Italians who decide, whether by choice or necessity, to live abroad. Italy has been and still is a country of emigration. The Direction of Italians Abroad and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are responsible for helping Italian citizens who reside abroad. Their responsibilities include the promotion of the Italian language in the Italian community, that is to say, the children of Italians who live abroad and want to sustain a relationship with their country of origin.” 
     

    I would also add that everyone who loves food must love Italian products, and Italians have to be the first ones to teach our foreign friends the proper names of our products. Culture depends on language, as does peace and unity.

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