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"A group of boys à la page and angry men, who grew up between fast-food restaurants and rock dandyism, decide to mix food and style in a provocative but mostly militant fashion. With them you learn that you can be a great chef without the uniform, that street food is not necessarily condemned to eternal disgust, that everyone has the right to eat and cook with the times, that locavorism and the defense of healthy products are not just a trip from late-hippies... "
These were the words of Alexandre Cammas, founder and soul of Le Fooding movement, in his official invitation to the third edition of Le Grand Fooding Milan. This year the event is titled 'Pelle all'arrabbiata': an untranslatable name that in Italian sounds like a pun between a typical recipe for pasta (penne all’arrabbiata) and the ‘angry skin’ of the ten tattooed chefs (you could see in the gallery here) who cooked behind plates and barbecue.
Street food became the leit motif of an event that transformed a former Milanese sawmill into an atmosphere with the smells, the moods and tastes of a country fair. Fireworks were replaced by the sizzle of the grill; bottles of S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna were used as lights, which brought to mind the final scene of the dance in the movie Fandango with Kevin Costner. The three-wheeled Piaggio Ape car, a typical means of transport of itinerant food vendors in the Italian province, became the makeshift storage for the ingredients - mainly poor - that the chefs used for their creations. And, of course, you only ate standing up. But forget the usual marching bands: punk rock was the rhythm of Le Grand Fooding Milan cuisine.
We tell our journey of everything we ate on the road in 6 stages. And please, turn up the volume.
1) Get in an old pick-up and take a highway in California. Your battered car stereo is blasting the notes of Black Flag -raw and direct, just like Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook of Animal restaurant in Los Angeles. Their LA Street Corn cob is skewered on toothpicks, covered in a white cheese sauce and, of course, pieces of pork. The crowning glory was the sauce of black charred white onions. The dish was served in a wooden bowl so it can fit comfortably in the front seat of your pick-up while driving as you move your head to the beat.
2) Welcome to London. The urban rabies from Uk Subs and Cockney Rejects accompanies you along the beaten track and rain will warm your insides with a dish of lamb’s heart, sheep's yogurt and anchovies from James Lowe and Isaac McHale's collective The Young Turks. As we are in the queue are surprised when a smiling Isaac also offers us a bowl with an unexpected menu item: buttermilk fried chicken served on a bed of pine needles. Punk angry yes, but with the heart. We told you so.
3) You know Kassovitz's Hate French movie? The Parisian suburb beats to the rhythm of hip-hop, new voices that are native French but also Moroccans, Africans, Jews. Sounds, voices, tastes and textures all blend together though in a pastrami sandwich of beef tongue, trout eggs and tarragon sauce at Jérôme Bigot, Les Grès, Lindry.
4) We head north into the home of death metal. Minced raw meat for Andreas Dahlberg and Wade Brown from Bastard restaurant in Malmö (Sweden), served on grilled bread with pickled marrow, shoots of wild garlic, watercress and horseradish. Only for true metalheads and only for those who are not afraid of hearing someone scream in your ears.
5) A change of music and climate. We descend into Italy with CCCP, which in the 80s wrote the history of Italian punk rock defining themselves as "Emilian melodic music." Changing and surprising, as unexpected as the octopus and pork belly lollipop at Eugenio Roncoroni and Beniamino Nespor from the Milanese Al Mercato restaurant. As the chefs advise: eating the bite of octopus and pork belly with a good dose of spice is something that "should never lack in life."
6) The concert has come to an end. It’s nighttime and we’ve come home with our old pick-up. But we're still hungry. The last place open is to kebab Matteo Torretta of Visconti Street Food / Al V Piano in Milan. "For me a duck kebabs with ketchup and mayonnaise truffle carrot." Next to the sizzling plate JonOne is completing his graffiti on the wall. And down the road there is still Bedussi serving mojitos, I mean, ice cream with lime and fresh mint.
In the meantime, we traveled the streets across the world, heard music in the rain, blew the candles for the 80th anniversary of Aranciata Sanpellegrino and ate a Bavarian cream straight from an orange cut in half, made by Galdina Della Seta. We go to bed with a new tattoo that Lady Snowhite (born Roberta Stefanoni) has painted on our arms - we chose a poisoned apple. We also have risked breaking our arms in arm wrestling championship show just to win a bottle of Veuve Cliquot.
But you get the satisfaction of winning the game of three cards?