The Italian Touch: Simple Ingredients

We’ve partnered with Vogue Italia to explore the Italian Touch – the unique Italian attitude towards life, craft and food that makes our country and the people who live in it so special. Today we look at bread and tomatoes; the two simple ingredients that play a vital role in many of Italy’s most well-known and favourite dishes.

Tomato red is the primary colour of Italian cuisine. It is the colour of passion; a shade we cannot ignore, just like we cannot overlook those who wear red. It was the colour of life according to Christian Dior, of femininity according to Valentino, and one of the genuine pleasure of anyone who dips a hunk of bread into the pulp of a ripe tomato. A colour that exerts a pull on us in an ancestral way.

And one thing is for sure: red can never be insipid. It is tasty, sweet and delicious and stuns of first sight, just like a woman’s red outfit says a lot about her personality even before she utters a single word. The colour red looks as beautiful as it tastes good: vibrant and juicy like a tomato left under the sun.

The Italians are generous and hospitable friends, just like bread and tomatoes. The perfect match lies in the comforting plumpness of carbohydrates, teamed with the sharpness of tomatoes: the simplest pair one can find on the table, like two letters in the alphabet that can be combined to create endless recipes, the signature dishes of Italian cuisine. Pizza, pasta, bruschette, panzanella and friselle all play the same motive, arranged like only the 1,000 campanili of the Bel Paese, the beautiful country, can do.

Bread and tomatoes are the basic ingredients of Italian cuisine, Aimo Moroni said, one of the fathers of our cuisine and the avant-garde interpreter of our food heritage. He was active in the 60s when France ruled and Italian chefs looked at French cuisine to get inspired, favouring butter, cream and foie gras over olive oil and basil and other local ingredients. Aimo decided to stand out from the crowd, proclaiming with pride an “Italian haute cuisine”.

Ever since opening Aimo’s restaurant, ‘Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia‘ in Milan, has served guests bread and tomatoes to start their meals. “Bread and tomatoes is like a declaration of intent. Come eat here with us, you will reset taste, smell and sight! Here you find the sense of our cooking: the quality of the ingredients, the care in handling them, the techniques and the necessary Italianness”, explain Alessandro Negrini and Fabio Pisani explain, the two chefs now at the helm of the restaurant alongside Aimo and Nadia’s daughter Stefania. “Tomatoes, olive oil, bread, basil: extremely simple ingredients that can become a lot more if selected and handled with the necessary ability.  They convey emotions, recall flavorus and awaken memories from the past. Focusing on a single and specific ingredient was Aimo and Nadia’s philosophy and still at the core of our cooking philosophy, also when we create new dishes”.

From a simple, identity-making combination that is crucial part of Italian food, bread and tomatoes elevates itself to a declaration of intent, as meaningful as it is tasty, ranging from the genuine simplicity of regional tradition to the elegance of a big chef dish. Bread and tomatoes is a recipe that marked an era and that still today points to a precise direction - the one that goes straight from simple food to a generation of chefs that revisit tradition with a contemporary twist. This is what Italian touch means: after fifty years and two Michelin stars, the star of Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia still shines bright like a design that will never go out of fashion. 

This article originally appeared on Vogue Italia.