Genesis of five iconic dishes
Massimo Bottura is the most celebrated chef on the planet. Not only because his restaurant was twice at the very top of the World’s 50 Best, not only because he has 3 Michelin stars or because his episode on Chef’s Table on Netflix, the one with which the series was launched, has received over 25 million views. The chef from Modena is appreciated everywhere for the delicious dishes he creates, but most of all for the deep meaning that each one of them encloses.
Behind every dish of his, there’s a critical observation of the past, without nostalgia. There’s a synthesis of memory and technique, the effort to make the invisible visible, transforming passions into edible ideas. Behind the process that leads to the birth of Bottura’s dishes, there’s a careful process of research that starts from territory and tradition and then finds an original way. An approach that Tenuta Luce shares with its wine. This is why we met him when we were working on Birth (which you can find at this link), and we asked him to explain to us the birth of 5 of his most iconic dishes.
FIVE AGES OF PARMIGIANO REGGIANO IN DIFFERENT TEXTURES AND TEMPERATURES (1993) «In 1993, before I opened Osteria Francescana, I ran Trattoria del Campazzo. I tried to focus on a dish that would express our ‘terroir’. Initially, there were three textures of Parmigiano Reggiano: a demi-soufflé aged 24 months, a 30-month sauce and a 40-month wafer. We soon added a fourth texture, a frozen foam of Parmigiano aged 36 months, whisked with a syphon. To tell the truth, there’s only one ingredient in this dish: time».
BOILED NOT BOILED (2009) «One morning I arrived at Osteria Francescana. We were going to make bollito. Belly, jowl, tail, tongue, calf head, cotechino… Are we sure we want to boil all these delicious things in the old style? Could it be that our traditions are sometimes disrespectful of ingredients? We cooked every cut in a vacuum pack and we strenuously looked for the right temperature and cooking time for each one. Weeks later, we had the solution: the colour of the different cuts was never grey, but always bright. And we also preserved vitamins, proteins and organoleptic features ».
LA DAME ET SON CHEVALIER: THE CRUNCHY PART OF LASAGNE «Modena is the city of slow food (Parmigiano, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale…) and fast cars (Ferrari). With this dish I tried to unite technique, speed and lightness. Starting from a thought: the most delicious part of lasagne is its burnt and crunchy edge. This lasagna recalls a Ferrari’s air intake: triangles of pasta fried in a pan, alternated with layers of ragù and bechamel». A real essence of lasagna.
OOPS! I DROPPED THE LEMON TART (2014) The most famous dessert at Osteria Francescana happened by chance, the result of a happy incident. «On a hectic Friday night, our sous-chef Taka dropped a lemon tart made with ingredients from Southern Italy: lemon, bergamot, capers… After the disappointment, we realised a mosaic had appeared on the ground, formed by pieces of the broken tart and the broken plate. A very poetic mess. I thought of the opportunity hidden in a mistake, of how artist Ai Weiwei dropped a 2000-year-old vase, of how a break can be a a beginning. From that moment on, we decided we’d serve it like this».
BREAD IS GOLD (2017) «Bread, milk and sugar: these were the ingredients I was crazy about as a child. At first, I joined a processed, filtered and whisked cream with caramelised breadcrumbs and a gelato made of salted bread. It was not enough: the recipe needed a universal value, one everyone could see. I looked at the work of Sylvie Fleury, a Swiss artist who covers everyday objects in gold. That gave the idea of adding a gold icing made with melted sugar. We included ‘Bread is gold’ in the menu». Today it’s much more than a dish: it’s the title of Massimo Bottura’s latest book (published by Phaidon), a hymn to the ingredients that are discarded and undervalued in Italian cuisine.