If one were to imagine a world temple of culinary arts, it would be easy to see that it was supported by four pillars – the four principal culinary schools of the world: Italian, Chinese, French, Indian. Each tradition, quite distinct from the others, can be associated with essential notions and archetypes.
Take Italy - the key words which come to mind are: element (elemental) and mother (maternal). The word elementality suggests that ingredients (elements) are king: freshness, extreme quality and tipicità. Tipico is how Italians describe “being distinct and individual”. Tipicità is crucially locked to territory and genetic stock. (*1). Just think of prosciutto di Parma, balsamic vinegar from Modena, buffalo mozzarella from Campania, Pantelleria capers, white truffes from Alba, lentils from Castelluccio, Spoleto extra virgin olive oil, parmesan from Parma, bresaola from Fassona, pistacchi from Bronte, pecorino Romano from Lazio …..
Elementality in food, is based on individuality: if you have great ingredients (elements), you don’t want to drown them in heavy sauces and melting pots. Lightness of treatment is the key to maintaining individuality: “what you keep out is what you put in” Eleonora Monini says. With elementality, you always recognize what you’re eating. This is so important in an age of increasing intolerance and allergy.
Elementality also implies eating in season and buying local (zero kilometers), whenever possible.
Elementality extends to that second key word: mother/maternal. Italian culture is, essentially, a female culture in men’s clothes. The Italian mama rules but so does the Great Earth Mother …..