With every taste, the ingredients that are used in our recipes tell the stories of the people who grow, harvest, and process them.
Andrea, the bee shepherd
"Every spring my wings and antennae grow; every year I become a bee."
The sweetness of honey, the food of the gods, has inspired legends and poems. Bees are the symbol of biodiversity: the only creatures that do not destroy but give life by feeding.
To respect these noble animals and celebrate this extraordinary product of nature, we chose Mieli Thun from Val di Non, a small group born founded by Andrea Paternoster and recognized worldwide.
Mieli Thun practices nomadic beekeeping, like shepherds: for eight months a year a “flock” of bees is brought “to pasture” in the most beautiful places of Italy, where they can distil the precious nectar from the most fragrant varieties of flowers. They are brought to sixty different areas to respect the biodiversity and rediscover it in the unique aroma of these honey varieties, which are not only mono-floral, meaning from a single species of flower or tree, but also “mono-flowering”, linked to a single flowering in a specific place.
Andrea, our producer and, more importantly, a great friend, passed away this spring. We could say that this spring his wings and antennae grew, he became a bee, and flew to a cherry tree. And as he taught us: “The bee represents life.”
Luca, keeper of the chestnut groves
"The passion for what I do is in my DNA. Like my father and my grandfather before him, today my children and I are all custodians of the precious treasure of Calizzano."
The story of the Ghisolfo family began in Murialdo, which has always produced dried chestnuts. From food grown for family sustenance or for bartering or sale, today the family business has turned into an art — the art of chestnut drying — which is handed down from father to son.
The decision to continue the smoking process in “tecci” [roasting pans] is not a folkloric choice, but one of excellence, and it is thanks to stories such as those of Enzo and Luca that today the smoked chestnuts of Murialdo and Calizzano proudly bear the title of Slow Food Presidium.
It is a flavour that tastes of tradition. Thanks to the presidium, everything from the boiled chestnut eaten with milk as the ancient local families did, to jams, beers, biscuits, and flours have given a future to a story with ancient roots.
Romano, the fruit multiplier
"The idea was to create an orchard so that people could come here. It meant being unconventional in the choice of varieties but also in the shape of the trees, which had to be kept as low as possible for access from the ground."
We got the idea for our orchard from our friend Romano Micheletti who created an orchard in Bolgare, near Bergamo, with lots of varieties. His orchard is much larger than ours! He supplies us high quality fruit at kilometre zero.
For us, going to Michele is a constant inspiration and the reason is simple: his fruits are full of flavour! They’re delicious and a revelation with every bite.
Romano created an orchard with countless varieties of fruits, a small multicoloured Eden where everyone can enjoy the memorable experience of picking the fruit they choose — by colour, shape, fragrance, and variety — directly from the tree which is deliberately kept at eye level.
The idea of creating an orchard open to people and with different varieties of fruit could only come from an apple tree, the first tree that Romano planted, with the certainty that there is no apple variety that is forbidden fruit.
Luigi, the brother of lemons
"I'm the eighth of thirteen children. We all lived in one room and my parents would go to make love under the lemon trees. That's how I was conceived."
When we talk about lemons, adjectives such as “tasty” or “ripe” are rarely used. Lemons are “fragrant” or “brightly coloured”, like flowers. And the fragrance of lemon, which comes from its peel rich in essential oils, is unmistakable.
Lemon plays an essential role in a recipe. Without its tangy aroma there would be no contrast that lets us appreciate the sweetness.
The most fragrant and best lemons in the world are those caressed by the warm sea breeze and golden sun of the Amalfi Coast. The oldest lemon grove in the area is that of the Aceto family, which has been cultivating the Limone Costa d’Amalfi I.G.P. since 1825. Pasqualina relies on the experience of Luigi, born in 1934, who carries on this millenary tradition: he gets up at 5:00 a.m. every morning and returns home in the evening. “He spends all his time amongst the lemons,” his wife tells us.
Pasquale, the almond scholar
"As a child I was raised on bread and almonds: the family talked of nothing else."
In the lands of Apuglia, almonds are a fruit with an ancient tradition. Thanks to the mild temperatures in the area, the region grows the best varieties used for pastries and sweets.
At the end of August, the ground around the almond trees is lined with tarps on which the ripe fruits fall, are collected, and stored in jute bags. After removing the husk, the almonds are dried in the heat of the sun.
The Campobasso family has been dedicated to cultivating almond trees since 1898. Campobasso almonds, crunchy and floury to perfection, are carefully selected and have an intense flavour.
Pasquale tells us that in the ‘70s the almonds of Apulia, once a pillar of the local economy, seemed doomed by the spread of their California sisters that had “good machinability”: meaning they were more suited for industrial processing used in Panettone Christmas cakes and Colomba Easter cakes. Californian almonds are all the same, beautiful to look at but not flavourful.” For a “friend of the earth” like Pasquale “there is no doubt that profit is not enough. It is the love of things done well, of achieving one’s dreams, of the family name, that gives us the incentive to always improve.”
Lucia, the hazelnut guardian
"In the family everything revolves around hazelnuts. We often joke about it, but it's the truth: the more generations go forward, the more we are addicted to hazelnuts."
The hazelnut, with its leafy crown around the shell, is the queen of nuts. It is truly difficult to resist its rich, buttery taste. That’s something the Benvenuto family knows very well: they can’t do without hazelnuts.
Lucia, who represents the third generation of the family, tells us how her family of farmers in the Langhe region of Piedmont was contacted in the 1950s by Cavaliere Marchisio, Ferrero’s supplier, to find the best hazelnuts. Her grandfather Teresio started traveling throughout Italy in search of the best product to grow in the Langhe area until he found the most amazing hazelnut: the Trilobata Tonda Gentile. It was love at first sight. Thus, the Benvenuto family started processing these hazelnuts in 1974.
“I.G.P. Piedmont hazelnuts are not like the others: they have a more delicate, tastier flavour. There are no secrets and you don’t need to be an expert: if you taste it, you recognize it immediately,” says Lucia.
For our hazelnut guardian, their cultivation is more than a legacy to be passed on and preserved: they are her younger “sisters” with whom she sometimes quarrels, but whose bond cannot be broken.
Ivan, the cow personal trainer
"My daughter, as a child, gave cows the names of Disney princesses (like Cinderella, Belle, and Snow White). Even now she's the one who gives the cows their names, but she calls them after the characters in a TV series or the names of the places where she goes on vacation."
If someone asked us ordinary people the colour of milk, we’d simply say white. The perspective changes when six hundred litres are milked every day. Then it turns out that milk has many different shades, a bit like snow for the Eskimos: in winter — when cows eat hay in the barn instead of grass in the pasture — it is lighter and contains more fat. In summer, it is darker and contains less fat.
Ivan has followed in his family’s footsteps: he has been in the dairy business for forty years. He gets up at 4:45 a.m., milks about 50 cows, cleans the barn, collects that milk, and delivers it. After milking, he also brings fresh milk to us every morning.
Ivan’s cows are queens in the true sense of the term. He shears them with care and combs them one by one because every year they participate in contests to become the new bovine beauty queens: “It’s a passion that takes time because the cow must be groomed, but when you win and everyone tells you that your cow is the most beautiful, it’s very satisfying.”
Fortunato, the keeper of liquorice
"Calabria produces the best liquorice in the world: even the Encyclopaedia Britannica says so."
Black and fragrant, aromatic and balsamic, liquorice is a root with a unique flavour and bittersweet core that — from Chinese medicine to Indian pharmacopoeia — is the source of myriad remedies. Liquorice is not harvested, but tamed: a wild-growing and invasive plant, you need to dig trenches one and a half metres deep to uproot it. What makes liquorice special is that it grows without the need for human intervention only at certain latitudes — at around the 40th parallel. Outside this area, it is almost impossible to grow.
The Amarelli family has been in Rossano since the year one thousand, and Fortunato represents the fourteenth generation of liquorice growers and extractors.
Fortunato grew up playing in the family factory with the workers’ children: “We’d run to climb the large root deposits, which were mountains for us to climb.” Until World War II, the Amarelli factory was the home of all the employees. Entire families worked there. Everyone lent a hand — fathers, mothers, children — and many workers lived there. Today Amarelli is found throughout Italy and Europe, but only one family remains: “the community around the company is what matters most.”
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