one HUGE risotto

you have a 120 pints pot.
you have 5kg of rice and 3kg of pecorino with truffles
you have 100 people to feed.

butter and onion as usual but this time with the addition of a certain amount of premium truffle oil.
you toast the rice then add a little bit more truffle oil, just in case.

halfway through the cooking you start adding the cheese.
that's when you realize your diners are taking it easy and are running late on schedule.
you do not panic (only a little bit) then take the radical step of turning the gas off.
you keep on adding warm stock while nervously checking the diners' progress.
you wait.
you add some more stock.
you wait.

when he time is hopefully right you turn the hob on again then add the rest of the cheese.
your risotto is creamy, wonderfully smelly and miracolously al dente.

you serve with justified pride.
you pat yourself on the back and enjoy a one minute break before getting cracking with the lamb.

but that's another story.

ps: no time to take pictures so i have posted a lovely image of a cornish beach. the tiny pink dot is my daughter in her birthday dress.


IMBB 12: the roundup


only nineteen entries to this IMBB, dealing with anything from the utterly disturbing (marmite) to the apparently innocuous (marmite).
here are excerpts from all of them. the link will take you to the relevant post.
read on.
be inspired.

"When I heard that the theme of IMBB #12 would be “Is My Blog Taboo”, I figured it might be a good time to take on some of those challenges.  ....  But the real question was this:  did I have the balls to take some risks and do something new instead?  Well, I didn't.  But I knew where to get some".

"I decided that instead of cooking something that most people don't eat, I would go for something that I don't eat....Fish. I don't like fish and I never have.  For as long as I can remember everyone has been trying to get me to eat fish".

"Finding a food taboo was a real hard task. I'm not someone who says no to new foods, and I'll try almost anything once. Bugs? Done that, they can be quite nice. Horse meat, snails, frogs... don't see what's shocking about that.."

"He greeted me with a kiss on the lips. At once his nose started twitching and he started sniffing. "Bleh", he muttered, "You've been eating that stuff again" "

"What does experimenting with IMBB 12:  Food Taboos reveal about our own "true qualities" ?  What do our taboos or dislikes have to tell us about ourselves?  In my case, I think the jury's still out."

"Madness is our taboo, not food. Food taboos are the remnants of village mentality and morality dictated by an invisible entity. We are rational people, especially cooks.

"my particular food hates, my food fascism, is at the heart of what I consider 'real food' and why I continue my love affair with cooking and eating"

"I know what she was trying to do, she wanted me to find out by myself knowing how insanely curious I am sometimes when it comes to new ingredients or new food".

"Ok. Swedes are very wary of additives in food, of anything not-completely-natural in fact. (Swedes have a very hard time at US supermarkets. It can be a scary experience."

"there isn't much that I won't eat!  (My friends, including my carbo-phobic ex are a whole different story!  But, how much fun is it to make bread or a bowl of pasta and watch everyone just sort of push their food around?)"

"I was going to be someone who’s never tasted natto if it weren’t for Carlo, host of the 12th IMBB, who extended the deadline. I took it as a sign that I should take this opportunity to overcome my aversion to natto and give it a try".

"I was beginning to despair.  And then it hit me.  Something they eat in the UK that, to my mind, would just be taboo on so many fronts.  Something that I have never eaten and would never make myself, except for the purely scientific purposes of IMBB.

"And because I work on my food entries from Pampanga, a province known for many exotic delicacies even for Philippine standards, close to nothing qualifies as taboo or forbidden".

"Her legal advise was it would be necessary to inform the diners what was being served before they ate it to risk the possibility of being sued if anyone suffered from the shock of it all".

"I have always wondered why should we go to such efforts to ruin something so good ? Do we really need to cook everything mother nature gave us?"

"... with some thought I came up with two ideas. One to use a food ingredient I HATE WITH A BURNING PASSION (sorry, got carried away by my hatred) and one for a dish that will disgust many readers out there, and may even be considered taboo by the Italian establishment!"

"Who am I to talk really? I'm the one who ate the cricket sushi at the Montreal Botanical Gardens".

"Oh dear. He's right: there is one food I hate and have resolutely refused to eat for the last thirty years ... Sigh".

"they were happy. i was happy. mission accomplished. there is hope".

thank you for your entries.
and thank you to the confabulist for having the balls and taking a picture of them.


IMBB 12: my own entry

baby food: horse and rabbit

i was ready for it. this was going to be my entry for IMBB 12:
a nice picture of two packs of horse meat and rabbit meat baby food i bought in italy for isabella last year.
an erudite dissertation on culture and taste was to follow along with the detailed description of the contorted faces and gagging sounds produced by my british friends at the idea of feeding those to their kids (btw: isabella ate them with gusto).

then on thursday morning I get a call from a london tv production company.
they: "would you be available to cook for a couple in the pilot for our new reality-makeover-docu-whatever series to be broadcast on big national tv station?"
me: "i need to carefully think about it. let me call you back"
2 seconds later i call back and say yes.
then on thursday afternoon I get another call:
they: "we have changed our minds. sorry".
me: "whatever"
then on thursday evening the phone rings:
they: "actually we have decided we want you after all: we wont pay you but you will have your five seconds of fame"
me: "it's a deal"

further conversation follows, in which i am informed that i will have to cook for a couple who needs some pampering and good food.. oh and by the way they don't like: fish, shellfish, venison, ham, risotto, asparagus, courgettes, parsnips, salame and a few more things i have forgotten.. not particularly fond of cheese either..

"what a bummer i think". then i realize the wonderful sinchronicity of it all: it is a perfect chance for an experiment along the lines of IMBB 12.
if you are what you don't eat what sort of people are they going to be?
and how will they react to the forbidden food i will cheekily sneak into their plates alongside the agreed menu? (i wouldn't normally do this but it is for the sake of science and more important- of IMBB!)

the agreed menu: tuscan crostini and aubergine mini pizzas as starters, linguine with pesto, lamb cutlets with breadcrumbs and thyme, mascarpone cream with cantuccini.
the forbidden food: goose ham, smoked swordfish with orange juice and coriander roots, risotto with squid ink and bream with capers and mayonnaise (yes i had all that available because i am *that* kind of guy) all to be added to the mixed starters.

i meet the couple: very nice hard working people with three kids, a passion for candles and a fridgeful of heavily processed and heavily packaged supermarket food. 95% of food distribution in this country is in the hands of 4 (four) big supermarket chains so no surprises here.
this is the most important reason- along with harrowing work ethics, long commuting times and pub culture - for the sorry state of british eating habits. the results are an extremely poor quality of everyday food and an absurdly narrow and homogenized range of options.
the point i am hoping to prove is that the british like bad food because they only know bad food and have long lists of dislikes only because we all tend to fear and reject what is alien and unfamiliar.

i prepare the starters, then the pasta with pesto, potatoes and broad beans. the lamb is quickly pan fried so the meat will still be quite rare.. i warn them because this is another big no no.

i must say this has been one of the most gratifying experiences so far.
they both decided to take the plunge and tried (almost) everything and liked (almost) everything. they were sincerely enthusiastic about this new flavours they had encountered for the first time and would have rejected in every other occasion. since they had no choice the ate their lamb rare and it was fantastic (their words).

they were happy. i was happy.

mission accomplished.

there is hope.

ps: the number of contributors has been lower than usual. i have therefore decided to leave a few more days for others to try and test their tastes (or their friends', or unsuspecting couples'). full report of contributions will be published wednesday (or thursday depending on your time zone and my unreliability).


is my blog on tv?

no, not really.

but this blogger might be: today i will take part in the filming of the pilot for a new tv program on national british tv.
this has caused havoc to my schedule so please bear with me.. i have already received some contributions for IMBB 12 and they are -you guessed it- stimulating, funny and exciting.


IMBB 12: is my blog taboo? aka you are what you don't eat

tasty horse meat cuts

i am happy and honoured to have the chance to host the IMBB on its first birthday.
yes is twelve months already from Alberto's "first inspirational idea and a full eight months since my last participation (you know.. baby, work, fat lazy arse.. it's a conspiracy to keep me from blogging.. it's not my fault.. i swear!!!!).

for these reasons I would like to make my contribution a little bit different, and, since i couldn't decide for a title i kept them both

after all, it's the same idea from different angles

is my blog taboo?
economy, environment, culture, religion have a strong effect on how we perceive our food so that what is perfectly good to eat for some is an abominable abjection for others.
if, like me, you are living abroad, your task will be to cook something that for you is normal or acceptable, but that in the country you are living in might be considered disgusting or even taboo.
The point of the exercise is to share the food with your local friends -or at least try- and record their reactions.

as an italian living in britain i could prepare some tasty horse meat speciality... on the other end, a british blogger living in italy would struggle not to have an italian retch over sickly sweet beans served for breakfast.
and so on...

i am particularly interested in the reactions of strictly observant followers of religions with rigid sets of rules about food: muslims, jews, vegans etc... would they really like to taste a forbidden food for "scientific" reasons? what would that taste like to them?

am i asking too much?

you are what you don't eat
this is a slight variation on the theme and is focused on you, my dear blogger who might lack a supply of willing victims.
try and test yourself.
cook something that you wouldn't normally eat because you find disgusting or taboo and think about the reasons why it is so. is it really so disgusting when you think of it with a more rational mind?
go ahead, take the plunge, suck the head of that fish, spread marmite on that toast.
and write about it.

IMBB 12 day will be the 19th. e-mail me your entry so I can keep track of it and report it in the usual way.

ps: for more info on IMBB please go to is my blog burning central.