My Italian Link met with Paolo Petroni, President of the Accademia della Cucina Italiana and talked about Italian cuisine.
How and when was the Italian Academy of Cuisine born?
The Academy was born in Milan in 1953 from an idea of journalist Orio Vergani, during a time when Italian cuisine was dying as it became diluted with recipes that used non traditional ingredients like cream. The use of this ingredient spoilt the traditional recipes by concealing original flavours. From this, came the need for an “Accademia” to preserve and promote the original recipes.
What is the main goal of the Academy in the world?
Today the Academy aims to protect and enhance real Italian food in Italy and worldwide, through collaborating with Italian diplomatic of ces as well.
What were the results achieved by the Academy and what are the upcoming challenges?
In recent years Italian cuisine in the world has improved considerably and in many cases overtook, in famous restaurants, and hotels, French cuisine. Challenging though it is, the use of typical Italian ingredients instead of “fake” ones, like for instance a good parmigiano reggiano, and not any other kind of cheese, or proper extra virgin olive oil is important in preserving original recipes.
Could you tell us a little bit about the ”First Week of Italian Cuisine in the World” and its relevance for the promotion and protection of the Made in Italy?
In agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Academy participates in the “First Week of Italian Cuisine in the World” that will be held from November 21 to 27. Through our delegations we will schedule historical and cultural conferences, some restaurants will also prepare typical Italian cuisine dishes. However this type of collaboration will also continue after the event.
What culinary advice would you give to a South African tourist visiting Italy, if he wanted to taste something new?
Italian cuisine is an inappropriate word, as the Italian one is the sum of many regional cuisines. The real tourist who is eager to experience something new should always taste the local specialties of the visited place, as the novelty lies in the interpretation of the chef, and not in the search for revolution.
What is the typical Italian ingredient which must always be found in the kitchen of a South African who wishes to experiment with some Italian recipes?
Given the fact that Italian cuisine is very broad, one could say that the kitchen should never lack onion, celery, parsley and pelati (peeled tomatoes) for a soffritto (sauté).
What is the most popular Italian traditional dish? And the most commonly made mistake?
The most popular Italian dish is “spaghetti alla carbonara”. The most common mistake is to mix cream with the eggs.