|Cooking demonstration by Chefs Margarita Fores and Carla Brigliadori|
I just couldn’t pass up an afternoon celebrating Italian music and cuisine that despite having a swollen and sore left foot (and feeling dazed because of medication for that), I tossed all caution to the wind and headed over to the Gallery at
5 for La Cucina all’Opera: A Taste of
This event, dubbed as a unique literary, musical and gastronomical journey through the taste of major Italian and other great opera composers and singers, was presented by the Embassy of Italy, Rustan’s, the Philippine-Italian Association, and the Calata Corporation on the occasion of the launch of Casa Artusi Philippines. Gracing the event were Italian Ambassador Massimo Roscigno who gave the welcome address and Casa Artusi President Giordano Conti who gave the closing remarks.
The first half was devoted to the presentation of the book The Operatic Kitchen: Music and Food in Emilia-Romagna by Giancarlo Fre who unfortunately passed away back in 2013. But present instead was the book’s English translator Margherita Spinazzola who provided an extensive and insightful talk regarding the book that successfully melded the unlikely pairing of Italian opera music and food linked together by the region of Emilia-Romagna.
The book featured brief accounts, anecdotes and tidbits about various Italian opera composers like Gioachino Rossini, Giuseppe Verdi, Pietro Mascagni, Vincenzo Bellini, and Giacomo Puccini. And scattered along the pages are various traditional Italian recipes that somehow had a link with whoever musician was featured in the chapter. I initially found it odd how non-Italians Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Richard Wagner and Maria Callas got featured in the book, but Spinazzola told us that their musical journey included stops in
the city at the heart of the Emilia-Romagna Region. I also learned through her
that the release of this book, originally titled Cucina all’Opera: Musica e cibo in
was born out of Giuseppe Verdi’s bicentennial birth anniversary celebrations
back in 2013. Emilia-Romagna
Another highlight of this event was the cooking demonstration by Chefs Margarita Fores, Casa Artusi’s first franchisee and Carla Brigliadori, Casa Artusi’s Executive Chef. The two made piadina and pasta from scratch using the matterello, a kind of rolling pin that Chef Brigliadori joked is also used for hitting husbands. The duo prepared a duck ragout sauce for the pasta in which I, seated at the second row, was able to get a clear whiff of the aroma of the simmering sauce. And this made me and probably everybody else at the Gallery very hungry.
Thankfully as the evening approached, everybody’s hunger was remedied as a sumptuous buffet was served featuring what the duo cooked and a whole lot more. While everyone was feasting on the food and wine, music by Antonio Vivaldi, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Pietro Mascagni were performed by a handful of musicians from the strings section of the Manila Symphony Orchestra. Unfortunately, I couldn’t have any of the wine that was served since I was under medication. Carla Brigliadori also happens to be a sommelier and it was torture for me when she described the various notes one could derive from tasting the wine.
The Operatic Kitchen isn’t available in retail outlets but copies were given away to lucky people whose names were drawn in the raffle and for those who were able to answer questions related to Italian culture. The book in itself is an easy read and it’s not required to read it from cover to cover. One could just choose a chapter/composer like what I did when I dove straight in to Giacomo Puccini. This chapter touched upon the composer’s penchant for hunting and then quickly segued to a recipe that called for some wild boar meat. Whipping up a Wild boar stew in red wine in the near future may not be possible for me, so I just let myself be content by playing a recording of Puccini’s Turandot.