EAT LIKE A LOCAL - WHAT’S IN THE LAKE GARDA LARDER?
Italy, as we all know, is one of the great culinary nations of the world. In fact, if it had only given the world spaghetti Bolognese, it would still be one of the great culinary nations of the world, but of course it can do a bit more than that in the kitchen.
We asked Miranda (pictured above), restaurant manager at the Eden resort, to talk us through the staple diet of Lake Garda.
“One thing that is very traditional and common is, as you might expect, lake fish, which means trout or sardines. If you come along in the early summer then the sardines are typical of that period. When the lake gets warm the sardines begin to gather and you can see big shoals or sardines near the surface. It’s a very beautiful sight! Lake fish are very different to sea fish, there’s a different taste to them which is purely down to the difference between salt water and fresh water. Our trout and sardine all come from the lake.
“Our traditional breakfast is so different from what you have in Britain, we’re not used to the big English breakfasts. No bacon and eggs! We usually drink a coffee or a cappuccino and then we might have a croissant or some toast with marmalade or some cheese. But no meat and no eggs! It’s much lighter. Heavy is not for us.
“Why is Italian food so popular throughout the world? Because all of our plates are ‘poor’, if you understand what I mean. There are not a lot of things inside, not a lot of competing tastes – Italian food is so simple, so direct – maybe the simple things are the best for many people.
“My favourite dishes? I’m a typical Italian girl so I love pasta, especially pasta alla amatriciana, which is made with meat, usually pork cheek, and tomatoes, and it is usually very spicy. That is my favourite. In England, I think that stuffed pasta like tortellini is not so popular, whereas you will find more of the stuffed pasta around here.
“In Italy, and in particular in the middle of Italy in places like Bologna, you would eat a lot of it and eat it in a broth. I lived in London for a year and now that I think about it, I never saw tortellini once! Maybe it is a bit difficult to cook or maybe it’s just difficult to find good tortellini in Britain, I don’t know… In Italy it is a skill that is passed down from generation to generation, you need an old woman who is an expert in tortellini to teach you how to do it!
“If I wanted to try something a little bit different if I was visiting Lake Garda rather than just living here, I would be tempted to try something like what we call ‘Sea Fantasy’ which is a salad of mixed fish, but not the lake fish that we use quite a lot, this is made up of the sea fish that we bring in from the Venetian Riviera. One thing we get a lot in our dishes that maybe you don’t have in the UK is octopus, and we do a dish that is octopus with potatoes which is… Oh my, it is just fantastic! Octopus has to be cooked properly so at first it is boiled and then it is grilled so it becomes wonderfully crisp. If you go to any supermarket around here you will see octopus everywhere! And if you have to do pasta, then you should try linguine with lobster and tomatoes, because the lobster around here is fantastic too.”