Dystopia and Italian Cuisine

By Amanda Smith
This past Wednesday, I went to Ganzo and was able to join table 21 and taste the delightful aperitivo. The theme of the Ganzo event this week was dystopia. The chef gave us a brief introduction of the time period and what was taking place in Italy during this time. He explained that from the 1960s-1970s this was a time of counterculture. This was an era of time that reflected a dark period. Following the war, reconstruction took place and people started to reproduce food industrially. Women wanted to have more time for themselves and premade food became more popular than it ever had been before.
This idea of premade food had never been considered before and seemed quite outrageous to Italians. The image of a woman cooking and cleaning in the house was substituted with the image of a woman squeezing a premade mayo bottle. These concepts were reflected in the aperitivos served at Ganzo this past Wednesday. The atmosphere of Ganzo was very lively. Everyone was friendly and eager for the aperativos to begin. There was a gallery viewing in addition to the event which made it even more special.
I tasted four dishes that the chefs presented. The first one consisted of crackers, sauce with ketchup and sun dried tomato, apple cider vinegar, shrimp, arugula and salt. They tried to replicate the simple, premade food from this time period. Their recipe did not consist of mayonnaise because they used healthier ingredients as substitutions. However, in this time period, mayonnaise was included in many meals.
There were also a lot of gelatin and cream used during this time period. The second aperitivo replicated a fish. This recipe included tuna mousse, lemon juice, parsley, and cherries. Biscuits were used on the side as well. The chef mentioned that recipes including gelatin were usually made for kids. This appeared to be a very kid friendly dish from the 1960s.
The third dish was sandwiches that consisted of cooked ham, a type of hard cheese called Italian Cheese, mozzarella, and smashed peas. This looked like a simple and easy to make dish for back in the day. The chef placed an emphasis on dishes that were pre-made and these sandwiches definitely looked like something that was made from this time period.
The fourth dish was pasta and it was my absolute favorite. It included a sauce with onion and white wine, raw salmon that was cooked to the temperature of the pasta, and poopy seeds. A common trend in these recipes were that they are simple and not time-consuming; considering women were more focused on other areas of their life at this time. Gelatin and Mayonnaise were common ingredients as well that Ganzo was able to substitute with other similar yet healthier ingredients. Overall, Ganzo did an excellent job of incorporating the theme into these recipes. I was able to taste delicious food while also learning about Italian cuisine in the 1960s.