“Bread is Gold” is the result of the “refettorio” launched at Milan’s Expo in 2015. Top-notch recipes from famous international chefs creatively use discarded food. The caramelized bananas with balsamic drizzle from the book are delicious!
High-profile chef Massimo Bottura has certainly arrived. His original restaurant Osteria Francescana in his home-town of Modena, Italy, has won numerous accolades and awards. In 2016, it was named No. 1 by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and No. 2 in 2017.
Now, Massimo wants to give back. His mission and consuming passion is to draw attention to the vast amount of food that is wasted world-wide. This when so many people in poor countries and affluent ones alike go hungry.
His brainchild: A “refettorio” – a spacious dining hall in an abandoned theatre in a marginalized neighbourhood of Milan – where he and other famous chefs with helpers transformed food waste into delicious meals. Working with a Catholic charity, they served them to refugees and homeless people during Expo 2015.
This story is beautifully told in a documentary called “Theater of Life.” The chefs’ recipes, accompanied by photos of them cooking in Milan, are documented in “Bread is Gold” printed on non-glossy paper in a soft-cover book. The recipes work. The book is one of my favourites of all time.
There are great recipes in “Bread is Gold”. Examples: Mario Batali’s coq au vin and bread pudding are delectable. Toronto’s own George Brown College supplied an excellent rendition of banana bread. There’s a delicious, easy way to use up stale bread in a breadcrumb cake from Montreal chef John Winter Russell.
To make the caramelized bananas (pictured above), just slice them in half lengthwise (you don’t need to do this but I did) and fry in butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat until caramelized, about 6 minutes. For the balsamic glaze, combine equal amounts of balsamic vinegar and granulated sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until reduced by about half, about 6 minutes. Transfer when cool to a squeeze bottle. Drizzle over caramelized bananas. I like some creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream with this.
Leftover and discarded ingredients heavily featured in the book are bananas, bread, ground meat, rice and potatoes. Deliciously, they re-appear in soups, ragouts, pasta, pies and puddings. Leftovers need not languish or, worse still, end up in landfill.
Recycling food and not wasting it has long been a passion of mine. The above photo – me dressed in real cabbage leaves with veggie accessories – accompanied my article in the Toronto Star food section in 1992. The title: How to be a Green Cuisine Queen!