A Whole Family of Cooks
Dr. Nestor Alonso ll (The Freeman) - February 16, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — There is a five-part series of Italian dining experiences called “The Many Lives of Chef Andrea Burzio: Uno, Nessuno e Centomila” at the Acqua, Shangri-La Mactan Island Resort. It features the lifestyle and cuisine of this Italian Chef de Cuisine who hails from Turin, a city close to the French border. The first two chapters are La Mia Tierra (My Land) and La Mia Infanzia (My Childhood). I’ve been invited to join in the third chapter, titled La Mia Famigilia (My Family) last January 13.

I am always eager to view food videos to help me understand the intricacies and nuances of the cuisines of the world. My travel experiences are limited (Florence and Rome only) because of budget constraints. I have viewed again Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservation” featuring his search for the origin of the red sauce (Neapolitan ragu). From the video I learned that it is made of beef and pork with tomatoes and is simmered for hours.  In America, the red sauce has lots of meats while the original Italian version had more humble portions.

The first two dishes served at the Acqua event were the L’insalata Russa Di Nonna Mariangela (Grandma Mariangela’s Homemade Rustic Mayo, Green Peas, Tuna, Carrot & Potato) and Le Cozze Piccanti Alla Livornese Di Papa Massimo (Papa Massimo’s Sautéed Mussels in Spicy Tomato Sauce, Garlic, Chives, Lemon & Extra Virgin Olive Oil). Two wines, Castello Banfi Fumaio 2015 and Chiantti were available for the dinner. Grandma’s dish showed the assembly of local produce for food for the family, simple yet nutritious; while the father presented a dish with layers of taste and flavors, from the spicy which tickled the palate to the sour which elevated the sweetness of the mussels. It was indeed a wonderful and delicious creation.

La Bagna Caoda Di Zia Carla (Aunt Carla’s Roasted Bell Pepper and Potato in Bagna Caoda Sauce made of Anchovy, Cream & Garlic) came next. Roasting the bell peppers unleashed the sweetness trapped inside the fruit while the fish sauce with the mix of cream and garlic incorporated the saltiness of the anchovy into the dish.

More nutritious greens were in Grandpa Cesare’s Side Dishes: Homemade French Fries, Mixed Garden Salad & Sautéed Winter Vegetables; while Grandma Edda’s Braised Beef with Beer, Celery, Onion, Carrot & Rosemary awakened a memory in me. The taste of the beef transported me to a dinner, excuse me, some 50 years ago at Maxim’s Tea House in Manila (a descendant of the owner opened the Chowking chain). I fell in love with the Braised Beef with Noodles and was surprised to encounter the exact same delicious beef taste in an Italian dish!

Gnocchi Verdi Al Forno Con Fonduta Di Andrea (Chef Andrea’s Oven-Baked Parisienne Style Spinach Gnocchi with Toma Cheese Fondue) followed. The Burzio family really ate a lot of vegetables back in those days and Chef Andrea contributed carbohydrates with a taste enhanced by the cheese made from the farmer himself.

The dinner closed with a trolley of Le Torte Di Mamma Anna (Mama Anna’s Cakes) and it was my sacred duty to taste all six.

Xinnián kuàilè… Happy Chinese New Year to all!

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