Sunday, June 28, 2015

Anteprima Malaze' - The Faces of a Territory #Tipicamenteflegreo

Among my appointments over the last couple of weeks, I had the opportunity to attend a press conference forthe upcoming edition of Malaze'.  Malaze' is a privately funded  now in its 10th year which focuses a spotlight on   treasures such as  art, archeaology, tourism, food and wine found in Campi Flegrei.  I've lived at the doorstep of Campi Flegrei, the Phlegrean Fields for over 20 years and it has always been a territory that has not only fascinated me with its secrets, but welcomed me as one of their own.
Back to Malaze'  and the press conference held on breezy summer evening at Blu Yachting Club in Lucrino.  A press conference where Rosario Matera (il presidente) spoke briefly about the series of events in September and  also gave an opportunity for the territory to speak.  A territory that spoke from the heart from those who know it best.  Those who have toiled the land, the sea, and produced what many of us take for granted.  They spoke of their struggles and their succeses.  How things have changed over the years and their hopes and desires for the future.

Nicola Pascondolo - sailor. The seas haven't changed so much...just the way of sailing.  Technology, sign of the times.

Nicola Pascondolo

Antimo Vallozzi - boat maker.  A tough but satisfying career.  A career that has pratically disappeared.  He hasn't made a boat in 20 years - the new generation isn't interested in constructing boats like he used to.

Antimo Vallozzi

Maria Cristina Di Palma - cook/chef/restaurateur.  A familiar face.  I've seen Signora Maria Cristina on numerous ocassions at her home - in her restaurant La Bifora.  She spoke humbly about her role in Campi Flegrei - to interpret the magnificent flavors and recipes of her territory.  Her son, chef Michele Grande, overcome with emotion/admiration/respect for his mom hopped in and shared stories of their restaurant.  Their winning recipes, old and new.  Touching.

Maria Cristina Di Palma

Michele Grande

Nicola Apa- farmer.  Apa spoke specifically about a product that he has grown for years.  The famous mela annurca, annurca apples found only in Campania.  As he spoke, I thought back to a house that I lived in from the period 2000-2005.  My house was next to an empty field own by farmers who also produced this fascinating fruit.  An apple, that once picked, is placed on the ground covered in sawdust in what seemed like edless rows.  The sun kissed the apples and over time, one by one, the apples were turned over so that the sun can caress the other side.  They aren't the best looking fruit on the fruit stand.  They are not shiny, sometimes they are dotted with bird bites  But, man, they are the tastiest and the only apples I buy.  Unfortunately they can't compete with the shiny perfest apples available on the shelves year round.  Apa has pratically abandoned the fruit on the trees.

Nicola Apa

Gennaro Moccia - wine maker.  I couldn't help but smile when I saw Signor Gennaro.  A familiar face who I've only seen in the vineyards.  His healthy smile and tanned skin are evidence of his healthy lifestyle.  I met Sig. Gennaro a few years ago in his stubborn vineyard on the hills of Agnano.  Hs vineyard where he and his son Raffaele perform evrrything by hand.  Sig. Gennaro, 84 years old, who can sling a heavy hoe and carve the volcanic terrain into terraces that make some of the most interesting Piedirosso dei Campi Flegrei and Falanghina dei Campi Flegrei around.

Gennaro Moccia

Vincenzo Di Meo - winemaker.  Don Vincenzo or Nonno Vincenzo.  When one thinks of Campi Flegrei wine, it is almost impossible not to think of La Sibilla.  Nonno Vincenzo, grandfather of the winery's current enologist and namesake, Vincenzo Di Meo, with straw hat placed on his knee spoke of how it used to be.  How he used to deliver wine from his humble home in Bacoli to the homes of the nobility in Vomero, Posillipo, Santa Lucia, etc etc.  Not by courier...but by horse back.  We all sat entranced as Don Vincenzo spoke.  Respect and admiration filled the small room.  Earlier in the evening, before the press conference began, Di Meo mentioned to me how he was honored to have the opportunity to speak.  I told him that it was the contrary.  What an honor for all of us to have a chance to learn about his history. His Campi Flegrei.

Vincenzo Di Meo

Giacomo Illiano - fisherman.  Illiano is a fisherman who is going through a rough period.  Illiano fishes for mussels.  Cozze.  The famous Cozze di Bacoli.  Mussels, which for many are a Sunday staple.  I remember how we used to stop by the cozze stands on our way home from the beach.  Mussels are inexpensive, at times a pain to clean, but quick to cook and full of flavor.  And the mussels from Bacoli are historically known as some of the best.  Unfortunately, due to sanitary concerns in respect to the areas were they are cultivated, the Bacoli mussel trade has come to a standstill.  No sales means no income to many families who depend on this savory seafood   to make a living.

Giacomo Illiano 

A press conference divided with stories of success, stories of challenges, and stories of hope.  Moderated expertly and with ease by journalist Ettore De Lorenzo.

After hearing these stories from the super heroes of the Phlegrean Fields, De Lorenzo introduced us to one last guest.  Chef Pietro Parisi, also known as the chef contandino/country chef.

Pietro Parisi - chef.  Parisi, who has travelled the world, has never lost the love and respect for his territory and the recipes that he grew up with.  He openly admitted that it is not easy for one to stay home after working in other parts of the world.  His restaurant is located in Palma Campana (Na), outside of Campi Flegrei, but he can surely relate to the issues that were brought up that evening.  His desire is to focus on the men and women who continue to produce quality products.  His hope is to bring back the recipes of his childhood.  The simple, yet, hearty healthy foods that brought up earlier generations.  Km zero works, he strongly believes and is proud to be a voice that bridges the gap between what was, what is, and what will/should be.

Pietro Parisi

An anteprima or preview is supposed to be a look at what is to come.  Create a bit of buzz about an event.  Not only did this Monday evening do that for me,, but it created an admiration for those who live in a territory that is beautiful - but full of struggles, challenges, wins, losses, and satisfactions.

Forza, Malaze' ---see you in September.
In the meantime, thanks for opening my eyes once again on a territory that is right outside my door.
A territory #tipicamenteflegreo.

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