Books. Iconiche similitudini by Matteo Baronetto

Apr 18 2022, 13:56 | by Gambero Rosso
Not a cooking manual but rather an art book, which opens with the aesthetic similarity of some products to finding their gustatory assonance. Matteo Baronetto is the author

Iconic similarities, a book by Matteo Baronetto

"As among people, even when it comes to ingredients, the proverb look alike, tastes alike, is valid" said Matteo Baronetto to tell the genesis of the book Iconiche similitudini, presented yesterday in his restaurant Del Cambio, in Turin. "Sometimes it seems that certain products have nothing to do with each other, but if you listen carefully you can stumble upon unusual discoveries." For example, that Taggiasca olives like to bathe in the juice of black cherries, that salmon fat fits perfectly with that of foie gras, in tetris style, and that the skin of the turbot is the reincarnation of nori seaweed. This is how in the book, after an introduction signed by none other than Andoni Luis Aduriz, in to which - quoting Paul Valery - it is said that to exist you have to look like someone (or something), Baronetto tells in the chapter "Similarities" the dishes born in the last 4 years from the aforementioned assonance, up to mentioning in the next chapter, "Iconic", some of those he created in Milan, working with Carlo Cracco, as forerunners of those similarities.

Iconic similarities. Neither recipes nor photos

Avoiding the easy tendency to write recipes, accompanied by classic photos, Baronetto's volume presents itself as an art book in which the chef tells the path that led him to discover certain similarities, each accompanied by a pictorial table created the Maretti Editore graphic artist, Edoardo Maria Manuguerra, under the supervision of Baronetto himself: "After making a dish, I like to make a sketch: I can't stand the idea that, after consuming it, only the taste remains in my head. Of course, it could be photographed, but doing so would feed the indigestion from images fostered by social media, and chase an impossible thing that I can't even stand, perfection." "Perfection shortens the artistic life", says Baronetto at the beginning of the book, as an epigraph.

Calamari and egg

Attention, the dishes born from these similarities are not at all simple mental projections, if not even style exercises, but real taste discoveries able to fully satisfy the palate and appetite (trust us, we have tasted them). For example, this is the case of Calamaro e Uovo (calamari and egg), which in the book is described as: "How many times have we noticed the excessive rubberiness of boiled calamari rings? One day, while trying to marinate boiled eggs in vinegar, I noticed that the egg white cut into rings had exactly the same consistency as overcooked calamari rings. The error becomes reproduction, and from that day on I started mixing rings of egg white marinated in vinegar with those of boiled calamari. And if I want to go even further, I stain the pure white of these two elements with a lightly salted parsley purée."

Between Gualtiero Marchesi and Bob Noto

The Marchesi influence in the project are evident, and proven by the years in which Baronetto worked at the Albereta in Erbusco, where he got to know Carlo Cracco. "Dishes are born more from culture than from technique," in fact he told us, implicitly quoting the Maestro. Especially from the art of painting: in the dish Cuttlefish and Lard "...the slices of raw cuttlefish... if served superimposed and alongside slices of lard, also thinly sliced, will recall Piero Manzoni's Achrome." Instead, the homage to the late photographer and gourmand Bob Noto, with whom (in the book) he imagines chatting on the phone, is explicit:

M: I called you because I finished a little book: a few copies for enthusiasts and collectors, where there are no photos but coloured graphic drawings...

B: Cool! You did well, photographers and even cooks have broken our balls (eh eh eh, laughs). Now everyone is photographing and cooking...

Collector’s sleeve

Yes, precisely like a collector's item, each copy of the book is contained in a transparent sleeve, almost as if it were a vinyl LP of yesteryear. "There will be no reprints", publisher Manfredi Nicolò Maretti tells us, "350 copies and that's it, all numbered and autographed, which will be given to friends and sold in bookstores and online, on various platforms". In short, an operation in the name of pure beauty, devoid of a real purpose of profit. Hurry up, then: this is not your usual cookbook.

Iconiche similitudini - Matteo Baronetto - Maretti Editore - 96 pages. - €27 - limited edition: 350 copies autographed by Baronetto

by Marco Lombardi

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