“La nobiltà dell’animale”…The Nobility of the Animal

By: tutticooks

May 12 2011

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Focal Length:20.6mm
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Camera:DiMAGE G600


"Che Bella Chianina!"

It is said that Americans prefer Italian food to just about anything else in the states.  Coming to Italy just reaffirms that.  It is a fact universally acknowledged that food in Italy is absolutely delicious.  I can concur with this wholeheartedly.  There is precious little that I have eaten in this country that I have not loved.  And if I didn’t love it, chances are good it was simply because I did not fancy the ingredients, NOT their preparation.

As a cooking instructor, however, I can’t just send everyone over to Italy to live.  I want to find out WHY it’s so good and attempt to re-create that for my students.  Here, in this blog, I will attempt to prove my hypothesis about why we love Italian food.


and, a side note


Case in point…our visit to Rosalba Tedeschi Ranch…

Our second day in Italy brought us to Tuscany, where we reunited with Andrea’s friends, the Micheli family at their Agritourismo in Cortona.  Once we settled it, we drove out to a cousin’s cattle ranch, not far from us.  It was a gorgeous day and we walked in to the covered area and saw the most beautiful and unusual cows I’d ever seen.  They are called Chianina and they provide the most sought-after beef in all of Italy (and quite possibly the world).  You and I know it when it is prepared as “Bistecca all Fiorentina”.  

This beef is amazingly tender and flavorful, slightly marbled and very moist.  It is the showpiece of Florentine cuisine and rightly so.  I wanted to know why. 

 I met Athos, who is the caretaker, and he told me all about how these animals live.  They are able to roam fairly free, particularly the mothers with new calves.  They can move indoors and out with ease, and, as he explained, new mothers need space and need sometimes to be away from the other animals.  The grass in the area, he explained, which is their food source, is rich in vitamins and is very sweet.  They graze at their leisure.  The very first growth of spring, however, when the grass begins to grow more quickly and plentiful, Athos shared, is cut and stored for the winter.  This ensures that the vitamins and nutrients are preserved while at their height, and the animals can benefit from it throughout the colder months.  At one point, Athos, who spoke no English, looked out at the animals, as he must do a thousand  times a week and murmured, “Sono animali molto nobili…” These are noble animals, he said with a sigh of admiration.  I realized, in that moment, that Athos loved and admired these cows.  I discovered then, why the meat tasted so good.  It was the love and care they received during their lives. 

 Later, when I commented to Barbara (our host and Athos cousin) how I thought Athos had a passion for what he did, she said “You have to love it.  It the hardest work imaginable and he gets no time off.  They must be visited four or five times a day, the stalls must be cleaned, they must be watched for disease…there is no time for a break. You must be devoted to raise Chianina.”


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