Genoese Pesto World Championship: the final on March 23rd – Italian cuisine reinvented by Gordon Ramsay

There are 100 competitors: 80 from Italy and 20 from abroad; the youngest is 20, the oldest is 90. They are the finalists of Genoese Pesto World Championship, on March 23 at the Palazzo Ducale in Genoa. A key event for the Genoese and now not only for them. Because this competition, created to raise awareness the culture of the typical basil-based sauce, has crossed the borders of the region and Italy.

Genoese Pesto World Championship: how the competition takes place

Competitors now come from all over the world (even from Brazil), but in ten editions of Genoese Pesto World Championship there are two constants that fortunately have never changed: the playful spirit and joy that animates the race and the organizersand at the same time the regulation, rigid, which is faithful to the original pesto recipe. In fact, the competitors will have to prepare the pesto only with what is provided by the organizers, i.e. the ingredients of the recipe from the specifications of the Genoese Pesto Consortium: DOP Genoese basil from the Ligurian Riviera, Italian pine nuts, garlic from Vessalico (Imperia), DOP Parmigiano Reggiano, Sardinian flower, sea salt from the Trapani salt pans, DOP Ligurian Riviera DOP extra virgin olive oil.

What the Pesto Genovese champion wins

The 100 will compete in a first heat in the morning and then a jury made up of 30 expert judges – including we at “La Cucina Italiana” And a delegation from Alma, the prestigious international cooking school in Colorno (Parma) – will choose the best 10 for the final which will be played in the afternoon. Manual skill, colour, finesse, consistency and balance between the ingredients they will be the judging parameters based on which each proposal will be given a score. Up for grabs an olive wood pestle with a gold-wrapped handle worth around 2 thousand euros and worldwide fame, which is priceless.

What to do in Genoa during the Pesto World Championship

March 23rd will be a party, even before a race, hosted by Roberto Panizza, director of the championship, together with Marisa Passera, historic presenter of Radio Deejay, which will involve the entire city. The World Pesto Championship final will in fact be the highlight of a long series of events dedicated to the culture of pesto, but also to fun.
Among those that will be held on March 23, the Children’s Championship organized by the Consorzio del Basilico Genovese DOP, the Lollipop Choir with 20 choristers of all ages who will interpret theAnthem of the World Championship written by the band Buio Pesto. Meanwhile, outside the championship, there is a rich calendar. For example the March 21st a guided tour of the botanical garden with the theme “Essence of botany. Journey through perfumes, from the table to public greenery” and on March 22, in the Sala Trasparenza della Regione, a series of talks on the present and future of pesto, from the presentation of Genoese Pesto Revealed, that is, the presentation of the book by photographer Craig Wales, to a scientific research on the formula for the perfect pesto coordinated by Ben Thuriaux, before an inevitable demonstration on how pesto is produced in a mortar. Obviously it will be a special occasion to taste pesto: all week in Genoa there will be the “Ligurian Restaurateurs’ Pesto Week”who participate in the promotion of traditional cuisine in collaboration with Ascom, Confesercenti and Genova Liguria Gourmet (the complete program of the long weekend is on www.pestochampionship.it)

«Almost twenty years of work on the Mortar Pesto World Championship have changed the perception that the world has of our sauce”, said championship director Roberto Panizza. «The road is still long, but we think we have actively supported this growth: when we started, finding pesto in many medium-high range restaurants was almost impossible, while today even the most prestigious establishments offer it to customers. The championship’s work to promote the tradition of pesto and its recipe is therefore well underway and we are equipped to face the next twenty years.”

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March shopping: fruit, vegetables and seasonal recipes – Italian cuisine reinvented by Gordon Ramsay

Meteorological spring begins today, March 1; the astronomical one with the equinox on Wednesday 20th of this month. There March spending It therefore reveals this moment of transition towards the new season: we still find abundant fruit and vegetables typical of winter and spring products are already appearing on the shelves.

Wild, cultivated, green and white

But we’ll be there soon. In March the first “official” announcements of spring come with asparagus: those cultivatedbut also those wild (pungent asparagus, Asparagus acutifolius) widespread throughout central-southern Italy, especially suitable for the preparation of excellent first courses with tagliatelle, macaroni (in Marche), Pici (in Tuscany) e you strangulate (in Umbria). The variety commonly cultivated in Italy, especially in Campaniait is thecommon asparagus (Asparagus officinalis), selected for cultivation already in Roman times. Among these, the varieties are valuable whitelike theasparagus from Bassano del Grappa in Veneto, that of Tavagnacco in Friuli and that of Cantello in Lombardy, which grow largely underground. White asparagus was selected much later, in the 16th century, when a hailstorm devastated the asparagus crops and the farmers made do by consuming the roots not yet emerged from the ground. In addition to traditional first courses, cultivated asparagus can be used for recipes such as asparagus cream and fried cream puffs; crepe lasagna with asparagus and taleggio cheese; soft eggs with asparagus cream; bruschettona, hummus, asparagus and courgettes.

Those cute beards

Next to asparagus, the other symbol of March dishes is made up of agretti or friar beards or negus beards. A very common ingredient in Roman cuisinebut who is meeting a growing success throughout Italy for its dietary qualities (just 17 kcal per 100 g): they are rich in water and fibre, have an excellent effect on diuresis and intestinal regularity. They also contain vitamin A, C and group B, especially B3. Mineral salts include potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron. In addition to their diuretic properties, they have purifying properties, thanks also to the high presence of chlorophyll and remineralising properties. Agretti usually go boiled and sautéed in a pan with garlic and oil, but in the first courses they also act as scenographic “green spaghetti” along with the “normal” ones. Or in the filling of ravioli or gods cannelloni. With their slightly bitter flavor they are also excellent in savory pies, such as in tarts with stracchino and agretti; in the flans; with the trout; with the potatoes; or with raisins and lettuce dressing. But be careful: the agretti season begins at the end of March and is very short. In May they will already be nowhere to be found.

March spending
Agretti with olives and dried tomatoes

Agretti, a rare and delicate first fruit, to be combined with olives and dried tomatoes for a simple and seasonal recipe

Go to the recipe

March’s shopping: spinach and Brussels sprouts

March is the right time for children too spinachas well as some spring onions. Excellent time for artichokes, with the violets, the thorny ones and the various violets present almost everywhere at the same time. The reign of winter vegetables, the family of damn in the lead, even if the season for them is now in its waning phase. With the exception of Brussels sproutsespecially good in February, but which are also appreciated in March, as well as the chard and the leek. Green light also at Fava beans.

La Cucina Italiana, March 2024: the Director’s Editorial – Italian cuisine reinvented by Gordon Ramsay

On the number of March now on newsstands you can choose from many recipes all easy and tastyexperiment i traditional spring sweetsa signature Easter lunch and the creations by Sal De Riso. Meanwhile, let’s give the floor to the Director, Maddalena Fossati Dondero.

The Director’s Editorial

«Years ago I went to Sicily to visit the legendary chef Ciccio Sultano; he took me to a cheesemaker who produced delicious ricottas with the milk of his Modica cows. We sat around a table to taste his warm, reassuring, honest-tasting cheese. And with him was his wife. The couple were almost two centuries old together and had been married all their lives, an eternity. The lady clearly brandished obvious leadership, he accepted the
his command in a natural way. «The important thing is not to send your husband to the gym, he said as a formula for arriving untouched at the diamond wedding. A decidedly modern couple despite the context. I recently came across an article by Rina Simonetta which appeared in La Cucina Italiana in 1939 entitled «The woman in her house. There was the celebration of the housewife within the home, of “women who feel their mission as mothers and housewives, not of those ladies who spend their lives in tea rooms, game rooms and dance halls”, I quote verbatim. Now, things have changed a little (fortunately and definitely not enough), and the kitchen is an emblematic and important scenario when we talk about us, girls, women, mothers, friends, sisters. We were segregated there for centuries, then we partly left without entering the kitchens of large restaurants where we are few. At the moment. In any case, today cooking is an act of freedom additional to the more classic one of love: I cook breakfast and dinner every day and I am “a woman in her own house” but I go to tea rooms and the gym and I also drink aperitif (I leave out the gambling houses). Where do I want to go? We still have a long way to go, but many things have changed since 1939, including how and why we cook.

Maddalena Fossati Dondero

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