Umbrian cuisine is innovative
by Agnese Priorelli
«Olive Oil and Umbrian wine are our cultural heritage such as Pinturicchio and Perugino».
Gianfranco Vissani does not need many presentations. It is perhaps the first chef appeared on television, when the chefs were still in the kitchen. Exuberant, outspoken and a genuine Umbrian. During our talk he remembers stories connected to his father: when he killed the pig or when he prepared the aromatic liqueurs so as the numerous things that he taught him. Then the interview moves on to the Umbrian cuisine and to the bond to this land. At this point everything gets clear: “Mine is a true relationship with the territory”.
What is your link with Umbria?
My origins are in Maremma but I was born in Umbria in Civitella del Lago in the province of Terni, At the lake of Corbara my father opened the first restaurant when there was still little electricity in the area and the streets were not very practical. When I was young, I was attracted by everything that was different, for this reason I traveled a lot thorough Italy: Venice, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Genoa, Florence and Naples, today all that is here represents my life. I love Umbria, I have a very deep bond with this land.
If Umbria was a dish, what would it be?
It would not be just a dish, but many. It would be hunting, the lentils of Castelluccio, the potatoes of Colfiorito, the truffle caved and not cultivated, the olive oil, the wines like Sagrantino, the torta al testo cooked under the embers, the “maialata” and the “sanguinaccio”, the thrushes of Amelia and the “palomba alla ghiotta” of Todi. We are a small region, but very important and innovative in the fileld of cuisine
An ingredient that can not miss on the table of an Umbrian…
Certainly the olive oil, for its small size, Umbria produces a lot, and the wine of Caprai and Lungarotti that were true innovators. These two products are our cultural heritage equal to Pinturicchio and Perugino.
How much, and how, has this region influenced your cooking and your work?
Very very much. Umbrian products are very present in my recipes.
Your latest book La cucina delle feste has this subtitle: “L’altro Vissani” Who is the other Vissani? Is there another one?
Yes, it’s another nuisance like me (laughs). It’s a subtitle that I enjoyed to choose.
A good chef is the one who cooks the best pasta with tomato sauce or the one who makes a great dish never made by others?
A good chef must know how to do both: starting from the simplicity of a pasta with tomato sauce to get to a more particular and complicated dish.
Little curiosity: is there a food that you can not stand? And one which you can not do without?
I do not like sauerkraut and I could not do without olive oil or ham, but the ham which doesn’t
How would you describe Umbria in three words?
Hills, nature and green landscapes.
The first thing that comes to your mind thinking of this region…
Quiet life and grape vines.