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Today is World Water Day. Here are 7 fake news to defeat – Italian Cuisine

Today the old fake news are added to the old popular beliefs and to the die-hard clichés. And so many are those on water, on plastic bottles and on aqueducts. On World Water Day, let's be clear about it! For our good and for that of the planet that hosts us

"Blue water / clear water / I can finally drink with my hands". All Italians remember the words of this beautiful song by Battisti. But really, do Italians really know about water? How much do they worry about the pollution of seas, rivers, lakes and aquifers? How much attention do they put in choosing the water to drink and use in the kitchen?

Italians and water: what a mess!

The results of a recent study conducted by Eumetra are not comforting (Water in the habits of Italians, 2018 created by Lifegate for Culligan in collaboration with the Eumetra Research Institute).
A primary essential for life, Italians have confused ideas about water and are very distracted. One in two shows little interest in the subject, while only 15% of super-attentive people are registered. The consequence of this lack of information generates, as always happens, the birth and proliferation of fake news and clichés that end up adding damage to the damage. False myths that feed habits and lifestyles that are increasingly unsustainable for our home, the Earth, as shown by the global warning about ocean pollution, invaded by over 150 million tons of plastic, mostly made up of disposable bottles . And Italy is among the first consumers of bottled water in the world. Let's try to understand why.

The 7 most common and most harmful fake news

1) Tap water is not safe

According to a recent research by Irsa, the Institute of the National Research Council, appointed to control water quality, Italy ranks at an excellent fifth place in Europe in terms of water quality. Before us only Austria, Sweden, Ireland and Hungary.
It must be said that the origin of water, its source, has a great influence on its quality, and that groundwater is always better than surface water. It follows that the high average quality of our water is due precisely to the underground origin of 85% of our sources. If we add that the water of our aqueducts is strictly controlled by the local health authorities, issued by the Ministry of Health, directly responsible in this area, it is easy to see why Italy occupies such a high position in the European ranking.
And yet, despite the proven average quality of the water of Italian aqueducts, in our country there remains a deep-rooted belief that tap water is not safe. A perception problem that gives Italy the 1st place among European countries for consumption of bottled mineral waters, and the second in the world, after Mexico.

2) It is better to drink only bottled water (because it is better than tap water)
Neither TRUE nor FALSE

Comparing water quality is not easy. Not everyone knows, in fact, that aqueduct water and mineral waters are regulated by different regulations. This means that some mineral waters on the market contain elements (such as arsenic, manganese or sulphates) in quantities greater than the parameters allowed for tap water intended for human consumption; and many other parameters, regulated for mains water, have no limit for bottled water. In short: some bottled water, if evaluated with the parameters used for tap water, would not be drinkable. Then we must also consider pet bottle pollution.
But, returning to the mains water, if the aqueducts provide excellent quality water up to our meter, it is also true that a "flaw" opens up in the path that brings water into our homes. From the meter onwards, the maintenance of the pipes and therefore the responsibility for the quality of the water passes into the hands of the consumer. And here the problems arise, because often there is no accurate maintenance by the end user, so as to compromise the quality of the water. To have at home a pleasant and totally safe water, it would therefore be a good habit to periodically maintain the pipes, sanitize and apply simple filters to the point of use (to eliminate chlorine, turbidity and any excess salts) .

3) High sodium water is bad for your health

The reduced percentage of sodium in the drinking water is indicated as a guarantee of superior quality. In fact, sodium is a fundamental substance for the human body. And if you are in the presence of diseases that do not recommend taking it, it must always be remembered that the amount of sodium absorbed through water has a negligible impact compared to that taken through food. To understand: 100 g of ham contain 2.578 g of sodium, while to take just one gram of water through water we should drink on average about 20 liters of water per day.

4) High calcium content causes calculations

A widespread common ground without foundation: drinking tap water, especially with a high fixed residue, ie rich in calcium and magnesium salts, promotes the formation of kidney stones. As confirmed by the National Institute of Health, there is no direct correlation between the concentration of calcium in water and the occurrence of calculations. Moreover, the opposite is true: a diet low in calcium can, if anything, increase the risk of developing this disease. And in general, for those suffering from stones, it is always advised to drink plenty of water.

5) Chlorine in tap water is not good

Chlorine is legally present in drinking water as a guarantee of public health. Its function is to sanitize the aqueducts and avoid any bacterial contamination, ensuring the quality and healthiness of the water inside the water network. At most it can be unpleasant to taste. A nuisance easily avoidable with the application to the point of use of simple activated carbon filters that eliminate the smell and taste of chlorine.

6) Drinking during meals is bad for your health

Many believe, erroneously, that it is better not to drink during meals. As reported by the Istituto Superiore della Sanità, with this behavior people are convinced they can digest more easily and lose weight faster. Obviously it is a false information. Drinking a fair amount of water (not more than 600-700 ml) during the meal serves, on the contrary, to improve the consistency of the ingested foods thus playing an important role in digestion. Obviously you should not overdo it, because in that case you could have problems: the gastric juices would be too diluted and the time of digestion could be lengthened.

7) Plastic water bottles are recyclable and can be disposed of without problems

PET plastic bottles have an estimated average life of about 1000 years! They are not biodegradable and only a minority of these bottles are collected and sent for recycling. If we add that the production of this material itself requires the use of large quantities of water and oil, it soon becomes clear that we are following a path that is no longer sustainable. To give some numbers only for Italy: with 12.5 billion liters of water bottled each year in our country 330,000 tons of PET are produced in plastic containers, equal to a use of 650,000 tons of oil and 6 billion liters of water. And then there is all the rest of the planet! (Che impact has a plastic bottle on the environment).

Today is World Nutella Day – Italian Cuisine

It is celebrated on February 5 for 12 years: it was launched by an American blogger, Sara Rosso, passionate about the hazelnut cream signed by Ferrero

What world would it be without Nutella? We have been asked so many times in the 90s, the commercials of the legendary chocolate cream gianduia signed Ferrero. But no one has ever managed to imagine it: Nutella is the gluttony that everyone recognizes, is the branded jar, is the Italian icon that breaks down all the class differences.

It was right to give her a party: the World Nutella Day it is celebrated today, 5 February, for the past 12 years. To found the first day dedicated to the hazelnut cream was American blogger Sara Rosso, in 2007. His love for Nutella has encouraged her to bring together all the other fans of the legendary Ferrero product to celebrate their passion on social media, through photos, recipes and messages. The World Nutella Day has become a global phenomenon, the day when we talk about Nutella at home, at work and at school, in off and online communities, with family and friends.

Hazelnuts, because cocoa was too expensive

Nutella was born in Alba. In the territories around the Piedmontese city, they are historically cultivated hazelnuts: Pietro Ferrero, who had opened a small pastry shop in the city, had decided to use them to make up for chocolate, when the taxes on the importation of cocoa beans discouraged the spread of conventional chocolate. In the 40s, Ferrero sold the first batch of his "Pasta Gianduiot", chocolate gianduia, the most local chocolate version. But it is at the beginning of the 60s that the "Spreadable Super Cream" turns into the myth: Michele Ferrero, Pietro's son, proposes it in glasses, perfecting the recipe and relaunching it with the name of Nutella, from "nut", hazelnut in English, and "ella", the Italian suffix that smells of softness and gluttony. April 30th 1964 the first jar leaves the Alba factory.

It weighs like the Empire State Building

It is the beginning of a history of unparalleled success: today production, beyond 400 thousand tons, it occupies eleven Ferrero plants all over the world, with employees in 97 countries. If all the jars sold in a year were lined up, the Great Wall of China would be covered 8 times, and the weight of Nutella produced annually is equal to that of the Empire State Building.

Nutella goes with a simple and good product like bread, helps to face the day («Energy to do and to think), looks for the complicity of mothers («The experience of mothers is always Nutella). And claims its genuineness, after the controversy raised for palm oil in its formula. It is without a doubt Ferrero's first line in terms of volumes, and contributes to the positive reputation of the Italian company, which is the one with the best reputation in the world in the ranking Global RepTrak 100.

And now, for Nutella, it's time to celebrate.

Seventy years later: the rice fields of Amaro rice, today – Italian Cuisine

We went to collect the rice in Vercelli and right in the rice fields where they shot Riso Amano. Here's how it works today, that the mondine are gone, between new and old varieties of rice

The origin of rice cultivation dates back to centuries ago in the Far East. It arrives in Italy, in particular in the triangle of the provinces of Vercelli, Novara and Pavia, Only during the Renaissance, but already in the fifties of the eighteenth century almost a quarter of the Piedmont territory cultivated with rice is located in Vercelli. But if Vercelli is the capital of rice, Cascina Venerìa in its district is the largest company single-body risicola in Europe, winner of an important gold medal. Set of film Bitter Rice and of the most recent documentary Bitter smile, this is a place of extreme charm, where you can learn all about the world of rice growing and where you can relive the atmosphere of the times of mondine that have inspired cinema and literature.

Risiculture: how rice cultivation works

The world of rice cultivation has changed radically in the fifties: with the mechanization, which has replaced human labor and the use of herbicides, which has greatly altered biodiversity in soils. In November the combine harvesters begin their rest period, until the spring, when towards March and April we will proceed with plowing and irrigation, because we remember that the rice needs a lot of water. Then, in May, it's time for sowing: usually 140 to 190 kilos of seed per hectare are distributed with direct sowing, which in Italy is the only method of rice cultivation. Once the rice is ready, it is fundamental to choose the right moment of the cut, given that depending on the variety ripen at different times. The period of collection, we move on to storage, or the conservation of rice in silos, where it can also be years, indeed; the more time passes, the more the rice will be cooked better. Also there processing rice is one of the most important steps to determine the quality of the product: after separating the beans from impurities, grass, soil and rocks, we proceed with the removal of the gem and the outer cell layers, first of the husk , ie the hard outer shell; then we move on to husking which happens by passing the rice between two abrasive rollers that peel it. After processing, the White rice it represents about 60% of the original paddy rice, while when it comes only brown, it is about brown rice, which preserves pericarp and gem and therefore has higher percentages of nutrients. Today, the machines, from the threshing to the dryer, greatly help each of these phases, while once a great part of the work was in the hands of the oilers.

The mondine
They are by now the last appendages of a vanished world, the mondine, seasonal workers often emigrated from elsewhere, like Angela Uaglivo di Caselle in Pittari, in Cilento: "I was born in 1932 and for years I was a mondina in Vercelli. I also made a small mess behind the trucks, just to keep my children, but two months a year I was staring at the rice paddies. It was a life like the military there, we slept all women together in a shed, on the rice straw. There was a common disease that came often, they called it the "rice sickness", that is, there were so many bubbles on the legs. Then there were so many mosquitoes. When I returned to Caselle because of my father's death, the pharmacist looked at my legs and told me: "My mother, how are you my children?" Then we always walked barefoot, working eight hours a day. If we sometimes asked for overtime to get a little extra money, we would also work in the evening, a couple of hours, often in the team. Then packages arrived with blankets and mats. I never inquired about who had been to send them, but thanks to those packages we were a bit 'better".

Variety of rice (not just Carnaroli)

Among the main varieties of rice, today the favorite is the Carnaroli, especially for risottos given the high starch content, the consistent grain and the excellent cooking resistance. But in the past it was not like that: the most widespread historical variety, for risottos, was precisely theNative to, as the name says, which during the fascist period was renamed table; then it was abandoned for small size and low cooking resistance so much so that today it is used more for arancini and timballi. It's theArborioinstead, the one with the biggest bean of all, born in Baraggia in 1946, in the namesake country. The added value of Arborio DOP Baraggia is the authenticity of the variety: about 95% of the rice grown and packaged as Arborio in Italy is actually Volano, a similar variety of the '70s; later, thanks to the PDO specification, the authentic Arborio cultivar is grown in Baraggia. Another highlight of the Baraggia is rice S. Andrea of Baraggia, which takes its name from the Abbey of Vercelli, whose masters are Emanuele and Pietro of the company Goio of Rovasenda, active and competent in the field for years (today even with a foodtruck around). S. Andrea is increasingly appreciated everywhere, particularly in the high catering sector because it cooks in less time and releases more starch than anyone else. For those who, instead, were looking for types with less starch we remember the Bold, ideal for soups, the Romethe Lotus which falls within the denomination Ribe and the Black Venus, increasingly widespread. For risottos, especially those with fish and vegetables, there is also the Vialone Nano but its area, more than the Vercelli area, is the Isola della Scala, the Veronese low up to Mantua. All these varieties are conserved in purity at Cascina Venerìa, which guarantees a precious protection of biodiversity.

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Cascina Venerìa

The Cascina Venerìa is different from the others for many reasons, among which being the only producer of rice a complete supply chain: Everything, in fact, happens in the 750 hectares surrounding, from the conservation and reproduction of the various seeds, up to processing, packaging and sale. In addition, it pays special attention to the selection and quality, with a virtually zero percentage of broken grains in the packages, which on the other hand also found by Eataly. It is a huge estate, with its own springs, which still preserves intact, albeit abandoned, the structure of the typical Vercelli farmhouse, with the ancient houses of mondine and laborers. In short, a very fascinating place, especially in the autumn fog when the spider webs fly like streamers on the rice fields, as a sign of a life that continues to live thanks to the rice fields. It may be for all these reasons that in 1949 was chosen by Giuseppe De Santis as setting for some sequences of that masterpiece of Bitter rice and in 2003 it was again the film location of the documentary Sorriso Amaro by the Vercelli director Matteo Bellizzi. In 2006, however, he won one gold medal in Spain, in Benicàssim, on the occasion of the first International Rice Olympics, organized by the Académie Internationale de la Gastronomie in Paris. Today, after endless changes of ownership, the farmhouse belongs to the Bertoldo family and, behind the church, there is also a sort of restaurant: open only by reservation for some special evenings, the Veneria Circolo Recreativo offers a menu based on Vercelli dishes, sometimes up to thirty courses, including, of course, panissa in a truly cinematic version.