Casalinga, rustico, simple…just a few words that describe Italian cuisine. Often people associate the word rustic with something ‘simple’, maybe not up to fine dining standards, with too many odd shaped knife cuts thrown into a dish. But rustico and casalinga mean so much more than that. And simple is hard to do well. You have to feel with your hands, smell with your nose and know your ingredients beyond the limit of picking them up at market.
To call food rustic is to gift it with authenticity, created with knowledge of the past and seasonal ingredients from right outside the door. Casalinga is directly translated as home tongue, meaning food made at home; Food that I have learned is the only good food you are going to find in Italy.
Italians are fiercely proud people, mostly allied to their home city or region, not their country. They are emotionally attached to their food. Starting to learn about the simplicity and hence great complexity of this cuisine I am attracted to the idea of it. Letting the ingredients speak for themselves in a dish is only possible if you have the best fresh produce and meat.
And in an industry full of ego driven chefs I like that the Italians thank the cook for honouring the ingredients and food when putting a dish together. Bowing down to the chef makes less sense when the ingredients are what makes something taste so delicious!