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In the words of Giuseppe Tumiotto -soul and heart of a typical Italian restaurant corner in the Thai capital- a vast professional and life experience that allows us to grasp the cultural differences in the world
It is not just about preparing or serving a particular dish as much as it is about being a standard bearer of a culture and a people, Giuseppe Tumiotto, as a Chef and a great traveler tells us about his cosmopolitan and at the same time typically Italian vision compared
The ambience of Trattoria Delina, in Bangkok, is cozy, intimate, historical photos, photos of Italian cities, a full-wall blow-up of the Colosseum in the evening, there are, however, also new spaces that have gradually expanded over time, inside, where, however, good taste and the Italian spirit marked by creative and rigorous design at the same time reigns. The panoply of wine offerings is one of the main features of Trattoria Delina, wide, with multiple proposals from various regions of Italy but also from other nations, for each bottle of wine, Giuseppe Tumiotto can with great skills of synthesis, express its individual peculiarities and specificities and illustrate, thus, to the customer, the best combinations with respect to the dishes ordered or intended to be tried. In fact, Italian Cuisine is now known throughout the World, wherever it has enjoyed great success, to the point of being a true identifying trait of Italy throughout the Planet.
Yeah, it's true, nowadays, Italian Cuisine is everywhere in the World and even here in Bangkok, it always gets great appreciation from both Italian and international clientele. Based on your vast experience, how do you explain that?
Italian Cuisine has become increasingly successful, to the point of experiencing its current popularity internationally, thanks to the high quality of its products. Nowadays, anyone in the World who has tried the original version of a Prosciutto di Parma, a Parmigiano Reggiano, anyone who has tasted a dish of Pasta alla Carbonara or any other typical Italian recipe in its original version or has tried an original Italian wine, knows what it is all about. More importantly, today they know what the difference is when Italian Cuisine is declined with innovations, additions, variations or is carefully respected and delivered to international customers in its authenticity. Through the sense of taste, the attentive, educated, experienced customer can distinguish true Italian Cuisine from its adapted version according to local preferences and products. Therefore, personally, I have always preferred to adopt Italian products by importing them rather than making do or simply deciding to use local products that try, to the best of their ability, to reproduce Italian taste and specificity. Cold cuts, sliced meats, and cheeses, even here in Thailand, are made from local meats, local milk, and are often of good quality as well, there remains, however, always a certain difference, in terms of the stability of the products. This, in fact, is difficult to keep under control if Italian production criteria and timing are not adopted. The maturation of cheeses, for example, cannot be compressed beyond a certain threshold; the same goes for cured meats. And finally, there is also the climatic context to consider: here in Thailand, for example, even considering that there are climatic differences between coastal and maritime areas and those in the highlands, we are in the presence of a tropical climate, therefore, with humidity rates and temperatures that do not allow us to obtain products with the exact same characteristics as the original products, Italian in this case.
There are Italian entrepreneurs who have over time moved to Thailand, who produce herbs and flavorings, such as basil, arugula and are of a good standard, used daily throughout the Italian restaurant chain in Thailand.
There is then also a cultural issue, we might say. Thai Cuisine, for example, is also seen as an identifying trait of its culture and extolled as one of the best cuisines in the world, with some pride
It does not, however, undergo the more or less "creative" attempts at re-interpretation or variation that Italian Cuisine in the World experiences, at least not at the same level. Which could also be a particular feature of the great success and remarkable recognition of Italian Cuisine worldwide. In this case, about cultural differences, I can use the example of spices. A lot of them are used in Asian kitchens; I have worked in Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, and today I am in Bangkok. Spices, in a way, standardize the final taste and often "cover up" the individual distinctiveness of the ingredient used. A particularly spicy and spicy dish does not help to distinguish the quality of a meat, for example, or the flesh of a fish. Here, this is a hallmark of Italian Cuisine: in a tomato sauce made with balance, you can perceive the scent of fresh and cooked basil, of the soffritto, even of the wine used to fade the minced meat in a ragout. Each of the ingredients is present and distinguishable and at the same time, their symphony constitutes the distinctiveness of each and every dish you are tasting. The excessive presence of spices, such as pepper, curry, and turmeric, to name a few, ends up "confusing" the final taste and flattens everything toward a unicum where, however, you are at a loss to evaluate the quality of the ingredients used. In a dish of fettuccine al ragù, if you use freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, you feel it well on the palate, just as you can easily notice if a product has been used that tries to imitate it. Today, international customers have reached a level where they can recognize this.
There is also cultural difference in the ways of life and interpretation of things in the world, isn't there?
Of course, here in Thailand, to return to the topic of cultural differences, we are in the presence of a population in the vast majority of Buddhist religion. This is important about social relations, the timing of appointments, the way one experiences the scanning of work and its timing. I mentioned the Buddhist religion because, according to a cyclical, karmic view, in daily life you take circumstances more lightly. Let's be clear, I'm not talking about "superficiality" I'm talking about "lightness," that is, a lighter spirit that allows you to embrace the difficulties and sufferings of life, as well as the small moments of joy and happiness. Social, human relationships thus take on, more nuanced contours. And all this then translates, in everyday life, into a more placid attitude, you welcome the hardships or joys of life as components of a cycle where more or less important things have a very different relevance than the scale of values we have in our Western cultures of reference. Here you can stop in a corner, sit on a step, and eat some fried rice with chicken in peace, in the midst of the traffic, the hubbub of a city as vast and populous as Bangkok, as if nothing happened. Think about it for a moment: is all this possible in a city in our nation or in the Western world?