Culture plays an essential role in giving value to our food traditions, both in the way they shape our identity as individuals and in defining ourselves as part of a larger community. In the same way, culture can preserve those traditions and transform them to meet the future, to elaborate them into a more sustainable approach that is good for both people and the planet.
Historically, the Italian cuisine is one where very little is wasted. The cucina povera (poor cuisine) from which the current Italian culinary traditions originated, was about making do with what you had to transform humble ingredients into dishes that were not only good but absolutely exquisite.
In a time of great scarcity, this meant that every part of the animal had to be used, everything had value and nothing could be thrown away, even leftover ingredients. Today, we can learn a great deal from cucina povera about being resourceful with ingredients and respectful of the food that we prepare and eat every day.
Food for Soul, the non-profit organization founded by Chef Massimo Bottura and his wife Lara Gilmore in 2016, was born out of this philosophy with the aim to build a model that could show the hidden value and potential of food that would normally be discarded. Refettorios, from the latin reficere (‘to restore’), are community dining spaces where we invite people in situations of social vulnerability and isolation to have a nourishing meal cooked by local chefs using surplus ingredients. We work with markets, supermarkets, food recovery organizations, and chefs to advocate for a healthier and more equal food system for all, by transforming food that is considered imperfect into beautiful and nourishing dishes that have the power to make people feel welcome and accepted.
Guests at our Refettorios are invited to enjoy a meal around the same table, but more importantly they are given the chance to become part of a community able to give them care and support. Our projects are meant to open doors and opportunities, by giving guests the chance to enhance their true selves and discover who they really are and who they can become.
On top of the anchor meal program, guests are offered a wide variety of activities such as art classes, and culinary workshops and courses that are meant to open pathways for social mobility and economic growth. Around a table we feed bodies but also souls and minds.
Food is a connector. In a world that is increasingly individualistic, where people feel isolated from their community and from their neighbors and where inequalities grow as a result, cooking becomes an act of love and inclusion that can often be louder than words.
Only by working with actors from across the supply chain, we can hope to change the production process as well as our consumption habits and build a more sustainable future, not only in terms of food processes and environmental impact but also of community resilience and social inclusion.
To find out more about Food for Soul and the work of our projects around the world, please visit www.foodforsoul.it and join our mission. Cooking is an Act of Love!
There’s a recipe that, more than anything else for us, represents the value of simple ingredients, hidden potential, that would seem to have no value at all: Passatelli - the most famous remedy to cold weather in the Emilia Romagna region, which is also a perfect solution to use up stale bread.
Recipe Passatelli in broth
- 1 ½ cups breadcrumbs
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 3 eggs
- pinch of grated lemon zest
- pinch of ground nutmeg
- 4 cups chicken broth
Bring broth to a boil in a wide pot. Place the breadcrumbs, Parmigiano Reggiano, nutmeg and lemon zest in a shallow bowl and mix.
Beat the eggs and add to the dry ingredients. Mix together into a uniform ball of dough. Place the dough in a ricer and press it directly into the boiling broth. Cut passatelli of 5cm in length. Cook until passatelli rise on surface, for about 1 minute.
Serve hot in a bowl full of broth.