DAY 1 of 2 / Chapter 4 of 7 – Italy
Milan 8,3 km
14:00 – Mangiari di Strada (Street Food) – 269, Via Lorenteggio
Crazy about street food? Nestled between the skyscrapers of Milan, there’s a place that’s out of this world. Unique, inimitable, unsurpassable. It’s not a kiosk, it’s not a tavern, it’s not a restaurant. What is it then? It’s a place that can only be called and defined by its name: Mangiari di Strada (Street Food).
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the temple of Italian street food!
Since street food arrived in Italy, Mangiari di Strada has been bringing to the streets – or tables – some of Italy’s most popular regional dishes.
We meet Giuseppe Zen, the brains, heart, soul – and, obviously, chef – of this temple.
The atmosphere at Mangiari di Strada is the same as at one of the many country food festivals you find across Italy, where popular local dishes are the order of the day.
At Mangiari di Strada we find forgotten flavours, and homemade dishes made by impassioned hands.
Yes, impassioned, because it’s Giuseppe’s passion that really makes this place unique.
We’re at a counter where Giuseppe lets us try a few different delicacies. It’s just like being at a food festival. We taste soup with cream of asparagus, oxtail stew, organic beef meatballs, lamb tripe with polenta, mutton and potatoes…
This is Italian culture; these are the flavours and colours of the foods of the Italian people. Sublime!
We go with Giuseppe to the garden. There’s so much to discover: there’s a vegetable patch, a barbecue, tables made out of reels that used to hold industrial electric cables, colourful awnings, deck chairs, pallets reutilised as tables, grass, sand, gravel. What can we say? We don’t feel like we’re in the middle of a city.
It’s peaceful and completely relaxing.
Whilst Giuseppe makes bombette di Cisternino (a delicacy from Puglia: cured pork sliceswrapped aroundcaciocavallocheese and parsley) on the barbecue, he tells us his story.
“I travel the length and breadth of Italy, eating in squares, food festivals, people’s houses, old taverns, and on dirty street corners in places forgotten by God. I do all of this to understand anddiscover excellent products and authentic popular dishes.
I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and it has enabled me to cook perfect dishes; perfect in the sense that the flavour is exactly the same when I tasted it in its place of origin.
At Mangiari di Strada,I would like to let people’s palates rediscover the flavours of authentic popular dishes.
I hate saying that my bread, fritters, tripe, and fried mozzarella are ‘updated’ street foods. They’re the same as the ones that I have tasted travelling around Italy, I just try to improve them using high quality oil and organic ingredients.
The bombette di Cisternino are ready. They’re fantastic!
Giuseppe has endless passion for organic and top quality ingredients.
Let’s take a classic street food for example: the hotdog. The hotdogs themselves are delivered from a famous butcher in Trentino-Alto Adige, near Bruneck. Mangiari di Strada makes its own bread using natural yeast and stoneground, biodynamic flour. They also make their own mustard, and the sauerkraut is strictly organic.
We assure you that this is a hotdog like no other!
When customers come to the barbecue to retrieve their freshly-made food, Giuseppe likes to talk about the dish, just like at the best food festivals, and even share a few tips on how to make it yourself.
Here comes a fantastic grilled smoked scamorza cheese with endives.
Do you like pane cunzato? It’s a Sicilian bread, which Giuseppe makes using natural yeast and stoneground, organic flour. He dresses it with Tuttotonda olive oil – voted best oil in the world 2015 – and oregano from Scicli.
Giuseppe’s pane cunzato is top quality and completely authentic. It melts in your mouth!
As well as being a nature lover, Giuseppe is also a farmer. “I have an agricultural holding in Sicily, near Noto, where I produce olive and almond oils following the Masanobu Fukuoka method.
The method of Japanese farmer and philosopher, Masanobu Fukuoka, is based on the nothing and no one of Zen Buddhism: natural farming. It says not to interfere with nature, which regulates itself by following cosmic time.
Look at a hill, for example. Observe how perfect and lovely it is. Yet no one prunes it, no one ploughs its soil, no one fertilises it or irrigates it. That’s what we do in Sicily; we leave the plants in their wild state”.
At Mangiari di Strada, how do they make their pasta? By hand, obviously. “We make fresh pasta every day – just like everyone used to – rolling it out by hand. I have my grandmother, Mafalda, to thank for this, because she taught me how to use flour and a rolling pin.
I’ve made fettuccine alla chitarra for you, with cuttlefish and cuttlefish liver. I also make dishes that are heavily frowned upon by health enthusiasts, like triple butter tagliatelle and many others.”
The selection of cheeses is spectacular. We tasted caciocavallo from Agnone, in the Molise region, produced by the legendary Serena Nucci; Formadi Frant, a delicious cheese from the Friuli area, and selection of caprini cheeses (made from goat’s milk), from goat farmer, Patrizia Vanelli, who produces Italy’s best caprini cheeses in the woods of Alessandria.
Mangiari di Strada. Street food temple. Pinnacle of popular Italian food. Open only at lunch.
They also make excellent tarts, including caramelised lemon flavour!