After leaving everyone speechless with his lasagna served in a toothpaste tube, controversial Italian chef Valerio Braschi is back with a glass of... liquid carbonara, instigating an online debate around his new distillate.
First, let's first uncover the facts. On 6 April 2021, the world, and Italy above all, celebrated 'World Carbonara Day', the country's favourite dish and a symbol of Italian tradition. The Internet was filled with fans and celebrities, sharing their recipes and Instagrams and stories of passionate forkfuls of traditional spaghetti.
Out of this chorus, we could have bet that Braschi, chef at Ristorante 1978, would launch a crazy idea. And so it was that liquid carbonara was born, a tasty aperitif to be enjoyed before a good meal.
The chef from Romagna challenges traditionalists with a glass full of what appears to be plain water, but is instead a non-alcoholic shot of carbonara-flavoured 'amuse bouche'.
You may be asking, why? But why not? During lockdown, there were those who re-arranged their wardrobe according to colour and season, and those who shut themselves in the kitchen and experimented. Each to his own.
How to Make Liquid Carbonara
To make the liquid carbonara, the chef spent about 3 hours distilling a mixture of zabaglione and pecorino cheese, black pepper broth and roasted guanciale cream at a low temperature to obtain the classic carbonara flavour. The whole thing was then put in a Rotavapor for non-alcoholic distillation to take place, explains Braschi on his Facebook profile. This long process makes it possible to obtain a concentrated carbonara flavour with zero calories.
The reaction of the online community has been surprisingly moderate, but not without wit. "Quite cringeworthy, but I would try it anyway because I trust you," said one poster, while others ironically propose new challenges: "Great Valerio, now we Neapolitans expect bottled pizza" and "Now we Sicilians want the cassata smoothie".
As crazy as it is, Braschi's reinterpretation, hasn't been entirely rejected, even by traditionalists. "A true thoroughbred of his profession. Innovative, but don't touch or change the classics. Carbonara to drink? Brilliant to have it as a liquid solution, but giving up pasta alla carbonara is like giving up kisses and, you know, without kisses there is no love."
We don't need to sacrifice kisses or even our physique, as suggested by one user: "Enjoy carbonara without getting fat... you are great."
Before arriving at the carbonara distillate, Braschi had already experimented with the transformation of solid to liquid food with an aubergine bitter, also designed as a small taster before starting a meal.
In this case, the aubergine bitter was obtained by baking aubergines and sealing them to cool in a vacuum bag so as to retain all the cooking liquids. "The roasted water is collected and angostura, soy sauce and lime juice added, to give more acidity and flavour with a bitter note that is perfect with aubergine," explained the chef.
"As the last step, the aubergine water is put in test tubes and then in the fridge because it must be served very cold. It releases a flavour that is exactly that of roasted aubergine with bitter notes of angostura mixed with soy sauce and lime juice, which makes the bitter a potion never tried before." The chef also added an Asian touch by adding Japanese tosazu vinegar to accentuate the smoky notes.
It seems Braschi is having a lot of fun in Ristorante 1978's kitchen. The next project is linked to some edible perfumes designed as a tribute to the restaurant's patrons. We just have to wait.
Ragù is the mother of all Italian sauces and the best-known food from Bologna in Italy. However, ask an Italian how to make ragù and you'll get a different recipe every time. In the first of a series looking into generational recipes, we focus on this most fascinating of Italian sauces.
Episode three of CNN's 'Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy' features Italy's beloved food valley, Emilia Romagna, home to Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano, ragu alla Bolognese and so much more. Discover the world-famous flavours and recipes from the region.
Italian chefs and pizza makers launch a campaign to keep cooking alive in the city of Milan sharing video recipes online as their restaurants and pizzerias are forced to close during the coronavirus pandemic.