[Thoughts on the Table – 74] Commercial vs. Domestic Kitchens and Italian Food Knowledge, with Simon Pagotto

Simon Pagotto

Restaurateur and Italian food ambassador Simon Pagotto is back for another great chat!

In the first part of the episode, Simon talks about commercial kitchens and how they differ with respect to domestic kitchens. For instance, he discusses timing, the benefits of professional equipment, dealing with large quantities, and achieving a consistent product.

In the second part, Simon goes through a list of 12 questions he’s been asking other Italian food ambassadors to test their knowledge. You can read the question below, join our chat to hear my answers! Do you agree? 🙂

Questions for Italian food ambassadors

  1. What dairy is in a pasta Carbonara?
  2. Is chicken acceptable in a pasta and if not, why not?
  3. Is there a right way to eat spaghetti? Is the use of a spoon acceptable?
  4. Why do they call Parmigiano Reggiano the king of cheeses?
  5. What’s your favourite pizza excluding a Margherita?
  6. Name another rice dish that doesn’t have the words risotto, arancini or suppli in the name.
  7. Does the word Ragu belong to just one plate or place?
  8. Do you know of a seafood dish that is served with cheese, if so what is it?
  9. Do you consider an area of Italy food more pure than any others?
  10. Do have a favourite region for food and what makes that region so special to you?
  11. Do you know some of the other regions of food as well as your favourite region?
  12. (Optional) Have you ever had a slightly warmed (so the fat just goes clear) salami sandwich on bread with an egg fried in the fat? Or a googy egg (just boiled eggs mashed with olive oil, s & p and fresh chopped parsley) bruschetta for breakfast? No need to answer that one, just try it sometime. LOL.

If you missed it, check out Simon’s first episode here.

During the show, we mention several dishes including Canederli, Amatriciana, and Carbonara.

Paolo Rigiroli

Author: Paolo Rigiroli

Now based in the UK, Paolo is an Italian who lived in Canada for nearly 18 years and blogs about Italian food and its many aberrations.

2 thoughts on “[Thoughts on the Table – 74] Commercial vs. Domestic Kitchens and Italian Food Knowledge, with Simon Pagotto”

  1. Paolo (and Simon), I always enjoy these podcasts but I thought the discussion in this episode was particularly rich and fascinating, both the first part on restaurant kitchens and the second half “quiz”. Speaking of which…

    Ah, the eternal chicken and pasta question. Personally, I never had a problem with it. I grew up in America where dishes like Chicken (or Turkey) Tetrazzini were a staple. Of course, ask 99% of Italians about that combination and the reaction is likely to be “Che schifo!” But like Paolo, I have discovered some exceptional examples of the combination in continental Italian cookery, including a recipe in the Monzù tradition in Francesconi’s classic La cucina napoletana.

    On the other hand, I don’t think the rarity of the combination has much to do with poverty. It is true that chickens were expensive, and have only become more affordable with the advent of “factory farming” The fact that the one recipe I know of comes from aristocratic kitchens in Naples tells you something, I suppose. But Italian cookery does have chicken dishes, of course, so why not (in theory) chicken and pasta dishes, except if the combination doesn’t appeal? In fact, combining chicken with pasta would be an economical way to “stretch” a pricey meat. And you could always boil that old hen past her egg laying day and use the meat for a pasta sauce of some kind…

    1. Thanks a lot, Frank! Glad you enjoyed the episode. Your consideration on the rarity of chicken-pasta dishes is indisputable, reinforcing the theory that for some reason the combination is an acquired taste and doesn’t appeal to the palate of those who didn’t grow up eating it. This keeps getting more and more interesting!

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