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Futurism in the Kitchen

La cucina futurista

During the first decades of the 20th century, the futurist movement presented its own original, bold style of cooking – new at every cost. After the pioneering work of French poet Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) – who, in 1913, documented his ideas on “culinary cubism”, (renamed gastro-astronautism three years later) in the magazine, Fantasio – the Italian futurists arrived on the scene: in Manifesto della Cucina Futurista (The Manifesto on Futurist Cooking) published on December 28, 1930 in the Turin newspaper “Gazzetta del Popolo”, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1876–1944) condensed and codified the “aerial” philosophy that the apostles of the movement went on to predicate in every field of art and science, including gastronomy. He revolutionized from the top down the values of the tradition “to invent something new at all costs, judged by all as a crazy.” Therefore, this meant the abolition of dry pasta, enemy of speed and modernity; the abolition of all “traditional pairings” and “mediocre daily customs”, making room for chemistry and the art of defining our food needs and taste preferences. He also called for the abolition of tableware and a return to the “tactile pleasures” of eating. He envisioned new forms of food that pleased the eyes, even before the tongue; perfumes to be paired with dishes; the limitation of distractions taking away from the food like music and conversation; the presentation of food not to be eaten, but to stimulate your imagination and desire; and bite-sized morsels “that contain ten, twenty flavors to taste in a few seconds”. He wanted to “create plastic, flavorful, colorful, aromatic and tactile substances” for real “stimulating meals". Then there are, of course, the memorable applications of these theories, like the futurist meal prepared on March 8, 1931 at the Taverna del Santopalato in Turin and is described in the book La cucina futurista (Futurist Cuisine) written by Marinetti and Luigi Colombo (1904–1936), known as Fillia, and published in 1932 in Milan by Sonzogno. The book contains photos and designs for the styling of the dishes. The book offers “new solutions based on harmony of the flavors and colors of the food, the invention of flavored, plastic substances, whose original harmony of shape and color will nourish the eyes and excite the fantasy before tempting your lips”. Some of the various recipes range from Carneaplastico, or Plasticmeat, a creation by painter Fillia, to Equatore-Polo Nord, or Equator-North Pole, by Enrico Prampolini, to aerovivande, or aeromeals, lunched paired with aromas that help digestion; and also to poetry and music as ingredients.
In reality, the innovations are more rhetorical than substantive. The Futurists brought back concepts that were already a part of Renaissance cuisine or even, with the combination of sweet and salty, Medieval. In any case, it is interesting that the mingling of artistic disciplines, which led to the “redesign” of dishes into new forms, greatly influenced contemporary cuisine. In the end, Futurism, like any quantitatively limited phenomenon, was more literary than concrete. 
Other ideas were going to take form.

Talismano della felicità Meanwhile, Ada Boni (1891-1973) published the first edition of Talismano della felicità, (The Talisman of Happiness), in 1925. Boni was the granddaughter on her father’s side of Adolfo Giaquinto, a celebrated chef and director from 1915 to 1959 of the magazine Preziosa. Her book was a gift for the happy families of the upper middle-class and  - judging from the ingredients and instructions – for the Italian aristocracy, which certainly didn’t identify with Artusi. Boni was inspired by the International cooking of Gorge Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935), and her cookbook offers demanding, expensive and luxurious recipes. Even though true Italian cuisine was much far more modest and “mediocre” the book has sold numerous copies and is still selling today.
Cucina italiana On December 15, 1929, the first issue of Cucina Italiana the Italian cooking magazine, was published. The magazine was founded by Umberto (1878-1950) e Delia Notari, and first appeared as a daily. Then in 1933, it began to be published as a monthly. The publication was known for its defense of national gastronomic traditions and the promotion of regional products. Each issue contained about ten recipes, table ideas, etiquette and personal recipes from writers and artists, interspersed with essays and poetry.
Petronilla The self-governing economic and dietary attitude championed in Italy during the Thirties was reflected in the proliferation of “minor” and prevalently anonymous literary publications, like the small manuals written by would-be aunts and grandmothers. For example, there was Cucina pratica (Practical Cooking) by Zia “Aunt” Carolina, published in Milan in 1936. There were also were also works like the manual Vivere bene in tempi difficili, ovvero Come le donne affrontano le crisi economiche, about how to live well during tough times, published in Milan by Hoepli in 1933 and written by Fernanda Momigliano (19th-20th cent.); or Perline, or “Pearls” by Petronilla, known, at the time, as Amalia Moretti Foggia della Rovere, a medical doctor from (Mantua, 1872 -Milano, 1947), published beginning in 1937 in the newspaper “Domenica del Corriere” and later published as a collection called Ricette di Petronilla (Recipes of Petronilla) in 1938.

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