In this interview, Seamus discusses his approach to cooking and its AFRODISIAC power
- Italian cuisine has so much to offer in terms of creating that special mood that makes everything sizzle!
AFRODISIAC CUISINE - A JOURNEY FROM EROS TO THE DINNER TABLE
Colors, flavors, aromas envelope our senses every day: whether this is in at home or in a restaurant, whether the dishes are simple or sophisticated. We are attracted by the novelty menu items offered by a chef. Historical treatises on cuisine offer numerous recommendation on preparing remedies and magic potions that encourage amorous mood and attitude. Yet Chianti Kitchen Cookbook offers nothing of this type – instead, it suggests how to create a dinner composed of dishes that stimulate the five senses, especially when matched with the right wines. The relationship between the culinary and the sensual, or between the dinner table and Eros, is not a recent discovery. It is well known that food can influence, positively or negatively, the mood of those that partake in a meal - so much so that even the top culinary schools in the world have undertaken to study this dynamic. Chef Seamus de Pentheny O'Kelly, a renowned chef with international credentials, a Master Chef of the Discovery Channel and the founder of Chianti Kitchen, The Tuscan School of Cooking, speaks about the characteristics of aphrodisiac cuisine.
Q: What are the traditional Italian dishes that belong to the Afrodisiac cuisine?
SEAMUS: To speak of the richness of the Italian cuisines and of its Afrodisiac power means to take into consideration the enormous quantity of superlative and fresh ingredients, and the fine-tuned preparation methods. Italy has many distinct culinary traditions that are reflected in the local dishes that elaborate all the flavors of the Mediterranean and have given birth to a real love for cooking. Since I was born in South Africa (that’s where the term “Afrodisiac” comes from), I had the chance to spend a lot of time on the coats of the Mozambique, which was once a Portuguese colony. That is where I have fallen in love with the wide range of culinary aromas and colors. This passion for a generous palette of flavors has stayed with me and inspires my recipes to this day.
Q: Is cooking really Afrodisiac or is this special effect only creatively induced by a skilled chef?
SEAMUS: As far as I know the romance-inducing effects of food have been the subject of many serious scientific treatises in all the countries of the world. So there has to be some truth to it!
Q: How is the effect of Afrodisiac cuisine received and perceived?
SEAMUS: It is well know that being in good company around a table full of good food stimulates dialogue, sharing, getting closer to one another… And if we only add to this the magic of well selected dishes, the charm is done. The right approach to enjoying this type of cuisine is based on curiosity, and if one has this approach, immediately after the first tasting, the senses are enveloped with a pleasant feeling of satisfaction. I always ask my guests to look me in the eyes when we do “cheers” with our glasses. In the very simple gesture of “cin-cin” are included all of our senses: the sight which appreciates the contents of the glass and the aspect of the person we are looking at, the sense of smell receives all the aromas, the palate enjoys the taste, the touch is involved in the fine movements of our hand, and finally the ear enjoys the repeated sounds of glasses, silverware, laughter and conversation, from one course to another.