The theme of this year’s Sani Gourmet is the Silk Road. Through a programme full of colour and flavour, we shall be illustrating the important cultural role played by food in forging links between East and West.
What is it which these five men have in common: the Greek Chrysanthos Karamolengos, the Chinese Jereme Leung, the Italians Riccardo di Giacinto and Andrea Fusco, and the Turk Ugur Alparlan? Well, obviously they are all chefs! But there’s another link between them: they all come from countries which have interacted historically because of the great trade routes along which goods were brought from East to West.
The famous Silk Road, which took its name from the highly valued silk which was produced and exported by the Chinese, came to acquire huge economic, political and cultural importance. It was a network of trade which linked China, India, Iran and the whole Mediterranean basin, with goods being transported on by sea to Arabia and the eastern coast of Africa. And as the goods travelled across the continents, they made a discreet but vital contribution to the everyday lives of many different peoples. Their influence was particularly pronounced in the field of gastronomy, with the introduction of new foods leading to the adoption of new cooking techniques, and the adaptation of foreign ingredients to the culinary customs of the countries which imported the exotic goods from faraway lands. It is no accident that pasta and rice are staples of both East and West, while spices and seasonings may be used in different ways and in different combinations in one country or another, but the mutual influences and interactions will be obvious to the experienced observer.
This year’s Sani Gourmet will be exploring the invisible thread that links Beijing and Rome, engaging in a creative debate on the evolution of European and Asian cuisine. We shall be highlighting the wonderful culinary inventions that have arisen over centuries of cultural interaction and exchange, the fine foods which unite peoples so different in other ways, and geographically so far apart.