Is COPPA unnecessarily strict

Heavy fare between Parma and Bologna or The unbearable lightness of the pig.

Of course, the customs officer picked me of all people from the queue of returnees who hurried expectantly through the corridor of Vienna Schwechat airport, was happy to distribute the silk scarves, schnapps bottles and Playmobil police officers they had brought with them to their loved ones, grandparents or grandchildren, who only gave them away Needed to pick up the airport.

"Where do we come from?"

At that moment I knew we weren't going to be friends. We come here. As if it wasn't clear that he strutting out of his unnecessary shooting gallery behind the mirrored wall like a flamingo on Valium while I from abroad, from afar, from the enviable THERE as opposed to the pitiful HERE ...

"Bologna," I said.

"What did we bring with us?"

For a moment I considered teaching the rooster a grammar lesson, sitting with my full weight on his chest and giving him educational slaps: I (clap) is (clap) singular (clap). We (clap) is (clap) plural (clap).

But I only had to think for a second of the consequences, of dull rounds in the shady courtyard of the Vienna Criminal Court, tattered Jack London volumes in the prison library, my dead cell phone and turnip stew for lunch and dinner. No. Turnip stew wasn't worth it. I have to think twice about the cell phone thing.

So I put on my authoritarian smile, which had already proven itself in numerous driver's license checks, and cleared out my plastic bag, which had won enthusiastic approval at the security check in Italy.

On the customs officer's desk - or was he a drug investigator? Why was anyone controlling here at all? Did Mr Strache abolish the EU during his lunch break or was I clearly identified as a saboteur of the European Football Championship? - a small living room landscape of good taste took shape.

Three bottles of Aceto Balsamico tradizionale di Modena in hand grenade form with all the unnecessary packaging that should make us customers plausible why 100 milliliters of a dark brown, sweet and sour liquid should be worth between 60 and 120 euros.

Half a kilo of the best lardo, as white as snow, or, as I feared, as transparent as a pane of frosted glass, because the summer temperatures in the cabin of the plane did not suit him.

300 grams of ham from Langhirano.

A kilo of parmesan from the organic farm "Hombre" of the Panini family - yes, the family that I personally made wealthy by buying every single footballer picture that the sly paninis had put into circulation.

A stuffed pig's foot called a zampone.

At least now I would have expected that we call the airport ambulance.

But the customs officer was only interested in the little Maserati Zagato Spyder, whose kit I had picked from a toy store for the archive. A little technical talk among the unsuspecting, and I was able to pack up my treasures again.

It is not difficult to land on the culinary standard between Bologna and Parma in a pub: there is no alternative. The Italy that we know and appreciate, the Italy of the picturesque marketplaces and arcades, the campaniles that cast long, holy shadows and the gentle hills on whose slopes olive trees give consolation, the Italy of the unspoilt sandy beaches, the Umberto Tozzi shreds and Postcard heaven made of freshly evaporated espresso, the Chianti bottles in wickerwork and the red and white checked tablecloths in the beach bar: this Italy does not exist here.

That means: the tablecloths are already there, unfortunately. Otherwise: level. Farms. Agricultural factories. Car industry. Tractors with wide hips that even stop brand-new Ferrari prototypes who, glued in snow-white and camouflaged at the critical points with Styrofoam, are making their first trips around Maranello. That's enough for the Tuttosport photographers chasing after the prototype in dirty Fiat ritmos to fall into a comatose rapture.

And fog. Did I mention the fog that falls in this part of Italy in October and clears up again sometime in April? This fog is not only responsible for the fact that the worst building sins in the agglomeration of the larger cities of Bologna, Parma, Modena remain invisible. The fog is the spiritus rector of the climate, and the climate is the basis for the fact that nowhere in Italy is more Italian food born than here, away from the tourist crowds, in the agronomic heartland, in the stables, in the silos, the barrels, the cellars , the attics.

Yes, attics. I had to climb a lot of stairs. Steps lead to attics and there are barrels in attics. Smaller and smaller barrels made of different types of wood - oak, chestnut, ash, juniper, mulberry, cherry - are arranged in "batteries", a highly artificial machinery of scarcity, at the end of which the heavy, black drops curl, in which Austrian narcotics investigators are not interested .

Every village inn between Reggina and Modena has at least one vinegar battery in the attic, and because I was so satisfied with the fantastic orzo, the barley with beetroot (and balsamic vinegar) or the beef fillet tartare with a refined, mayonnaise-like marinade (with balsamic vinegar) because I expressed this enthusiasm as best I could and was served a piece of tender tongue as a reward (with balsamic sauce and a few drops of homemade Traditional) and this, as well as the pieces of pork liver in bay leaf (with balsamic vinegar) prepared on the charcoal grill, was allowed to go up the stairs, come on, Signor, see, Signor, That! Is! A! Real one! Vinegar!

So I was given two to three crash courses a day in traditional vinegar production, and I consumed as much pure vinegar on white plastic spoons as I have never done before in my entire life (and I know Erwin Gegenbauer personally!).

Most important: there is so a balsamic vinegar of Modena and so one. One carries the inconspicuous attribute "tradizionale", the other does not, but it is precisely this attribute that separates the wheat from the chaff, with a letter and a seal. What is a "tradizionale" is not decided by the producer, but a vinegar-based supreme dish, the "Consorzio produttori balsamico tradizionale di Modena ". This respectable association employs thousands of tasters, 156 of whom are authorized to check vinegar samples submitted by the producers according to precisely defined criteria - color, consistency, sweetness, acidity, fragrance - and to rate them with points. The unattainable The long-term goal is an abstract maximum of 400 points, which, however, is nowhere near achieved.

Abundance and lack are divided at 240 points. Only vinegars that achieve this number of points are allowed to call themselves "tradizionale" and be sold in the hand grenade bottles provided for this purpose. The bottles are monopolistically produced by the "Consortio". The traditional custodians then monitor the filling of the tested product. They want to make sure that nobody is messing around and selling booze for gold (a practice that is reportedly common in the less strictly controlled olive oil business).

Sure, the "Tradizionale" achieves pharmacist prices, that can fuel greed. Even large producers like the "Acetaia del Cristo" in San Prospero cannot sell more than one percent of the amount of traditional grape must they harvest and at the end of the year to the processing cycle.

The ripening process, as Erika Barbieri, the owner of "del Cristo" explained to me, with the appropriate amount of poetry, so that even I got the impression that I understood the essentials, consists of five essential factors: the right grapes, the right wood And time, time, time.

Indeed, the subject of patience is well anchored in the customs of the indigenous Foggy Italians. When a child is born, the parents put on a vinegar battery. As soon as the child starts his own household, let's say carefully at twenty, he can harvest his first vinegar of his own, and if an unexpected pregnancy is the reason for the wedding, the next battery is due.

In theory everything is very simple. The grapes - white Trebbiano or red Lambrusco grapes, as they are harvested on the rather inconspicuous vines of the Emilian vineyards - come first in the press, then on the fire. In front of large barrels, the folkloric photo album shows resche women with headscarves stirring long sticks in the simmering grape juice until the sugar in the must caramelizes, the brew has boiled down to half and slips into the first, cautious shade of that brown that is twelve to twelve twenty-five years ago, the Praetorians of the "Consorzio" whistled appreciatively through their teeth.

The must is poured into the first, the largest barrel, mixed with some ready-made balsamic vinegar and fresh wine, freezes through the winter and begins the fermentation process as soon as the sun turns the uninsulated attics into infernal purgatory. Liquid evaporates. After a year, part of this first concentrate is put into the next smaller barrel, frost, fog, purgatory, the next harvest, the next barrel.

So that you understand what Erika Barbieri means by "time, time, time", do the following patience to measure how long it actually takes before a vinegar farmer knows how good the harvest was last autumn: put this booklet to the side and look at the clock.

Now wait twelve years.

Erika then presented the various flavors of her traditional food in a spacious tasting room, which was transformed into a refectory with richly decorated certificates for main prizes at all important tastings. The most important differences were explained by wood and age. I sorted white plastic spoons, looked at more shades of brown than I had known before - Guiness-without-foam-brown? Chestnuts-in-the-rain-brown? Somewhat-too-braised-brasato-brown? - and was busy making notes. My result: cherry wood gives the old vinegar the perfect, most elegant rounding. Old vinegar is more flattering, if it is of quality, it retains its strong acidity in addition to the honey aromas. You can't go wrong with the traditional blend of all wood flavors.

The adventure value of a vinegar tasting has to be imagined as if you were snacking on maple syrup with other adults for an afternoon.

It was time to have a drink.

I have written my own catechism, it says: it is most beautiful everywhere. I believe in that, unless I'm currently on the road in Marchfeld. I also like it best everywhere. So I fell in love with Nero d'Avola in Sicily and with Scheurebe in Rheinhessen.

Between Spilamberto and Modena, I doubted my own word. Okay, the fog was helpful with sentence 1, but what now had to be mastered was a deep look into the glass, in which was the most famous wine in the region, which weighs down the lower shelves of supermarkets around the world and in my memory for the worst Morning awakening variants is responsible.

Lambrusco. Freely translated: the plurre.

It's good that Rico Grootveldt made me smarter.

The export manager of the Chiarli winery wore a coat as bright blue as one can only wear when the color brown is completely used up by the 10,000 vinegar makers in the region. He got some impressive numbers out of the trunk of his Passat - Chiarli delivers no less than 25 million bottles of Lambrusco to the lower supermarket shelves around the world - but then he turned my gaze to the medium-term goal of his oenologists, the qualitative distant point.

"The connoisseurs only remember Lambrusco if they woke up with a headache at some point," said Rico with the soft irony of his Dutch German, and I couldn't contradict him. So he took my hand and first led me into the processing hall the winery in Castelvetro, the, as it is somewhat euphemistically called, "little San Gimignano" - I would rather say Castelvetro is San Gimignano minus the towers - then a liveried waiter in the tasting room served us fantastic ham, aromatic cheeses and - amazing wines .

Not only does the Lambrusco not necessarily wear the deep, raspberry-soda red as we know it. If it does not stay on the skins for several days after pressing, it comes elegantly and freshly in the bottle as a rosé, which is anything but harmful.

In addition, Chiarli has erased that "amabile" in its top wines, which on the one hand is so successful in the market, on the other hand, with its high sugar values, strangles the natural aromas of the wine.

I tasted in disbelief.

Rico smiled knowingly.

With my eyes closed I could smell the smoke of a fire on which a piece of meat was being grilled, it would not be day or night, but a cold Lambrusco would surely be the right wine.

I ate it all up.

I drank everything.

Then I met Mrs. Candida. Mrs. Candida wore a white coat. She had arranged her dark hair under a light, white cap, it was beaming. It was in the small kitchen of the most amazing restaurant I went to on my trip through Emilia, and it's not just amazing because you have to stoop to enter it by slipping behind the counter of the "Salumeria Giusti" where the boss, Ms. Laura Morandi, sold lardo and ham from Langhirano. The clandestine path leads through the kitchen, i.e. directly past Ms. Candida, into the dining room, where there are exactly four tables, four tables made of dark wood, covered with white, old silver, aristocratic self-evident with a tendency towards the rural self-image, and only the voluminous Riedel glasses indicated that not only vino di tavola is served here.

Ms. Candida did the following: She mixed a large amount of flour with yeast dissolved in lukewarm water, added a lot of salt, and kneaded a dough. She picked up the San Pellegrino bottle that she had on the side to hand when the dough needed a little more moisture, added bold splashes, then continued kneading.

It was a gymnastic sensation to watch her knead. Ms. Candida's perfect movement has already been created in the lower legs. The well-measured force rolled up the body like a tsunami and translated itself over the shoulders into an effortless play of the hands. The dough took on its velvety shine almost by itself. Mrs. Candida scratched a cross in the surface with the handle of a spoon, placed a tea towel over the pot and allowed the dough to rest for half an hour.

The "Osteria Giusti", Vicolo Squallore, 46, 41100 Modena, four tables, one Michelin star, is a focal point, the button on the belly of Italy. In the Salumeria, the things that thrive in the wilderness of agriculture are collected by enthusiasts Refined, found by fanatics to be good, sorted by saints: On the floor above, pasta is pressed, rolled, pulled and shaped by fingers that no longer need a glance on a square meter of wood.

Nothing else happens in the kitchen than in a thousand other kitchens in Italy. No detours, no digressions. The best is treated as the collective consciousness of Italy demands. Didn't the somewhat crazy biologist Rubert Sheldrake postulate in a bright moment that what one person knows is also available to everyone else? In any case, I pray that a chord of synapses will sound in the perception center of my brain if necessary, which were intoned in the Vicolo Squallore.

Just no art. The water for the pasta is heated in aluminum pots. The boiling olive oil floats in heavy, cast-iron pans, or ... exactly: the gnocco.

Mrs. Candida rolled out the yeast dough a few millimeters thick with the large rolling pin. With a pastry wheel, she cut rectangles about six by eight centimeters with jagged edges from the surface of the dough. The deep, black iron pan with the boiling but not bubbling olive oil was waiting on the stove.

As she let the first gnocco slide into the oil, the miracle took shape: the rectangle grew, it grew beyond itself. It took the form of a pillow, a qualified air cushion destined for higher levels, and only the seam, the jagged frame of the outline remained what it was.

Mrs. Candida smiled piously. She knows the instructions for use for miracles.

She let each gnocco fritto take on a bit of color, but saved the dark brown, which, as we know, is reserved for other enjoyments, then took it out of the fat, dabbed it with a kitchen towel and built a pile on a large, white plate ; a high mass.

It was no coincidence that the boss poked her head into the kitchen at that very moment and, with a portion of lardo and a portion of coppa in her hand, replaced Mrs Candida, who was now devoting herself to the canneloni with boiled ham and spinach that she, as the dough rested, had prepared.

The bacon melted on the surface of the hot gnocco. The coppa puckered. Mrs. Morandi put a bottle of Chiarli rosé on the table.

"You only have to know one thing," she said in a tone of maternal severity, which mixes irony and pathos so that no one can tell the difference: "I'm used to only empty plates coming back into the kitchen."

I ate it all up.

I drank everything.

Mrs. Laura was happy with me. When she asked me when I said goodbye in the Salumeria what I would most like to take home with me, I said in a high-pitched voice that was puffed up to the limit: "The recipe."

Here it is. I tried it at home, and it works not only with the Italian Doppio Zero flour, but also with the "Universal Flour" of the 480 variety, which is common in Austria.

Gnocco fritto

1 kg of flour

5 teaspoons of salt

50 g yeast, dissolved in lukewarm water

100 g melted butter, lukewarm

Carbonated mineral water as needed

Mix all ingredients quickly. Knead as little as possible, just enough to get a smooth dough. Let rise under a towel in a protected place for 30 minutes. Knead again and roll out three millimeters thick with a rolling pin, divide into rectangles and deep-fry in plenty of extra virgin olive oil in an iron pan.

PS .: Satisfied and satisfied, I provide three essential insights.

  1. 1. It's most beautiful everywhere, especially here.
  2. 2. Don't despise the pork.
  3. 3. Do not try to eat more than once a day in Emilia Romagna. And hold back at breakfast.