Allan Bay and the praise of eating with your hands: interview – Italian cuisine reinvented by Gordon Ramsay

Food journalist, historian, writer, Allan Bay he has just put down on paper in a book what many (if not all) think, but which we often don’t have the courage to say. At least not in public (so, let alone doing!). She remembered that eat with your hands it is one of the great pleasures of life, and how and why we should do it whenever we can, except for rare exceptions that make it impossible to use the thumb and forefinger to touch food, smell it and bring it to the mouth.

Is titled Praise of eating with your hands (The Assayer): clear from the title, it is a cultured and entertaining historical and anthropological journey that clears this very satisfying gesture that over the centuries social conventions have made appear “exotic”. Indeed – let’s say it – in certain circumstances a little rude.

As you will discover by reading it, until recently, forks didn’t even exist: they arrived on the tables of the European bourgeoisie only in the 19th century, after being invented in China. Then etiquette began to dictate the rules, limiting them to one There is a very narrow circle of foods that can be eaten without cutlery. This too is an entirely Western affair, considering that there is half the world – with many Asian and African countries leading the way – that often willingly do without cutlery. Allan Bay also tells this story and, to move from theory to practice, he gradually suggests tasty dishes recipes from «conlemanisti. Or rather, as he explains in this interview, “indications”, which certainly make reading his first “personal” book even more pleasant.

Interview with Allan Bay

Why is it a “personal” book?
«It concerns a passion of mine that few of my friends, the real ones, know about: eating with your hands, in fact. I have written many books, especially recipe books, which as such had a basic objectivity. This book is different precisely because it talks about me.”

What makes eating with your hands so enjoyable?
«As children we discover the world – and therefore also food – first of all through touch and smell, and this physical contact with what we eat remains the greatest enjoyment. But over time we tend to deprive ourselves of it because as we grow up we are taught that we have to use cutlery: we lock ourselves into patterns. The purpose of the book is to get out of these patterns and clear, when possible, this great pleasure of eating with your hands.”

How many would like to do it but don’t have the courage to do it or even just say it?
“I do not know. However, I know for a fact that several of my friends love to eat with their hands and that many use cutlery even in cases where there is no need. I think, for example, of those who eat pizza with a fork and knife and of the astonished looks of the pizza chefs while they do so. And then in Naples even spaghetti was once eaten with the hands: remember Totò?

Potato and mushroom pie, a vegan option for a lunch full of flavours – Italian cuisine reinvented by Gordon Ramsay

Potato and mushroom pie, a vegan option for a lunch full of flavours

The potato and mushroom pie offers a sublime combination of the velvety consistency of potatoes and the aromatic richness of mushrooms. It’s about a vegan recipedelicately prepared, which stands out for its refined simplicity, suitable for those looking for a meat-free dish, but without sacrificing taste, satisfying the desire for comfort food and strong flavours.

Leopard bread – ‘s recipe – Italian cuisine reinvented by Gordon Ramsay

Leopard bread - Misya's recipe

First mix salt, sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan, then add the milk, bring to the boil, stirring constantly and allowing it to thicken, then remove from the heat, add the butter until it melts completely and leave to rest for 30 minutes in a bowl, covered. from film in contact to prevent it from oxidising.

Pour the now almost cold mixture into the bowl of the mixer, add the flour and the chopped yeast and knead until you obtain a smooth and elastic dough.

Divide the dough in half, place one half in a bowl and cover to let it rise; instead divide the other piece of dough in half again.

Mix 15 g of cocoa with 2 tablespoons of water and incorporate them into one of the 2 remaining parts of the dough, working briefly.

Mix the remaining 5 g of cocoa with the remaining spoonful of milk and incorporate it into the last piece of dough.

You will have obtained a lighter and a darker dough, place them in separate bowls, cover and let the 3 doughs rise for at least 2-3 hours or until doubled in size.

Take the 3 doughs and, one at a time, deflate them with your hands and divide them into 7 equal parts: in the photo you only see 2, but you have to do it with all 3, obtaining a total of 21 balls of dough.

Start with a light brown ball of dough and roll it on the work surface to shape it until you obtain a cord almost as long as the mold.

Take a ball of dark brown dough and roll it out into a very long rectangle, place the light brown roll on top and roll the rectangle around it, closing it.

Now take a ball of white dough, roll it out into a long rectangle and wrap it around the other two.
Proceed in the same way with all the other balls, obtaining 7 different rolls, white on the outside.

Place all the rolls inside the mold lined with baking paper and leave to rise again for at least 2 hours or until doubled, then brush with milk and cook for about 40 minutes in a fan oven preheated to 170°C.

The leopard bread is ready, let it cool completely before cutting it into slices and enjoying it.

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